Like Sands Through the Hourglass…

It's going to be a dramatic off-season in Lexington.

…The Kentucky basketball roster is shrinking by the second.

As many expected, Daniel Orton has declared for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, so he would have the option to return to UK should he not like what he hears. Talk to his father, though, and you’d be hard pressed to imagine Daniel being a Wildcat next Fall.

Larry Vaught of the Advocate Messenger interviewed Larry Orton, who had this to say:

“Daniel is going into the draft,”  his father, Larry Orton, said Wednesday.  ”He’s going into training. He’s going to drop his classes just in case he needs to come back (to UK), but the plan is for him to be in the draft.”

Someone should tell Larry that dropping courses this late in the semester is called “dropping out”. He continued:

“He has a lot of stuff people have not seen. If he had played more, he would have made DeMarcus look bad. I am not saying that because he is my son. It s just that I know what he can do. He’s very smart and very skilled.”

I’m pretty sure that Shaq wouldn’t make DeMarcus Cousins look bad, Larry. Put down the crack pipe.

To recap, not only is Daniel Orton leaving UK after averaging a staggering 3.4 points per game, but he’s also going to drop out of school and move to California to train for the draft. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Patrick Patterson can finish out their semesters, but Daniel is apparently too busy for that. Hello, scholarship reductions.

But wait… There’s more…

Kentucky Sports Radio is reporting that Darnell Dodson will also be entering the draft. Here’s what they had to say:

The second tidbit told to me was that Darnell Dodson would not be on the team next season. I looked into this for some time and cant get total confirmation, but all signs seemed to point to this being accurate. Then tonight, said that Demarcus Cousins told people in Columbus that Dodson was going to the NBA as well and that only four returning players would be on the UK roster.

It’s just laughable at this point. Between graduation and the draft, UK will likely lose Wall, Cousins, Patterson, Bledsoe, Orton, Dodson, Stevenson, Krebs, and Harris. That’s nine players from a 13 player roster. That leaves Josh Harrelson, Darius Miller, John Hood and DeAndre Liggins as the only returning scholarship players with Stacey Poole and Enes Kanter as incoming freshmen.

Obviously, it’s not all gloom and doom for UK fans, as the Cats will likely sign as many as six more players. These signings should include #1 overall recruit Brandon Knight, as well as some combination of high school stars C.J. Leslie, Terrance Jones, Terrance Ross, Doron Lamb, Luke Cothron and Josh Selby. Based on Calipari’s track record, you’d have to think he signs at least 3 from that group.

Even in a best case scenario, though, the Cats will be looking at another year of a group of very talented but very young players holding the key to their season. This much turnover every year is not going to be sustainable moving forward.

Regardless, it’s going to be a Soap Opera Spring in Big Blue country.

5 UK Under-Classmen Are Reportedly NBA Bound

According to Jody Demling of the Courier Journal, Kentucky recruits are now being told that 5 UK underclassmen will be leaving school early for the NBA draft. That’s 5, as in the number of players on the floor at one time for one team.

I’ve got to say… This is a little ridiculous.

One of Daniel Orton’s 780 seconds per game.

Kentucky fans knew full well what to expect when we signed future #1 pick John Wall. 95% of us also knew DeMarcus Cousins was too talented to hang around for more than one year. Patrick Patterson is graduating a year early and we’ve already had him at least one year longer than we probably deserved. His jump makes complete sense.

Finding out that any of those three weren’t coming back would be like hearing that Ricky Martin is gay. It’s disappointing, but you’ve been prepared for it for a long time.

Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton are a different story completely. While both are immensely talented, neither is consistently effective as a college player. Not yet anyway.

Bledsoe goes through obvious dry spells, over-dribbles into turnovers, misses wide open layups and shoots 60% from the foul line. His single greatest asset is his athleticism. How many guys in the D League can you say that about right now? He lacks polish. He lacks consistency. He’s somehow a lottery pick.

Say hi to the kids from Europe, Taurean.

Daniel Orton averages under 4 and 4 in about 13 minutes a game. UNDER 4 and 4. He has an NBA body and an NBA defensive game to go with it, but his offensive game is lacking. I’m not sure if Daniel hasn’t shown more because it’s not there or because he hasn’t gotten the minutes to do so. As a projected first round pick, I’m guessing NBA GM’s are banking on the latter.

Daniel Orton and Eric Bledsoe are benefactors of what I like to call the “Taurean Green Effect”. If you put either of them on another team that isn’t stacked with 3 more lottery picks, they wouldn’t be thinking about the draft much less getting ready to pull the trigger. For some reason, all the time GM’s spend staring at obvious stars like Wall, Cousins, and Patterson makes them lose their perspective about the rest of the players on the roster.

Let me say this… I love both players. I love their potential and I’m proud of the character they’ve shown this season at Kentucky. But taking the money and running, when you know full well you’re not ready to succeed in the NBA yet is what the one and done rule is supposed to prevent. By jumping now, these guys are taking a huge risk and subsequently setting their program back at least a year while their replacements are groomed.

If they go, I wish them the best of luck. Here’s hoping I don’t have to.