Kentucky Wildcat Basketball: Daniel Orton's Role in the Greatest Night in UK Basketball History

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Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, Paul Jordan wrote that maybe John Calipari was right when he said, following the 2010 NBA Draft, that it might have been the biggest day in Kentucky basketball history. In that draft, players from Kentucky were selected first (John Wall), fifth (DeMarcus Cousins), fourteenth (Patrick Patterson), eighteenth (Eric Bledsoe), and twenty-ninth (Daniel Orton). It was the first time any one school had 5 players drafted in the first round.

Jordan does a good job making the argument that, in retrospect, Calipari may have made quite an accurate statement that night, especially when one considers his follow-up comments later during an SEC coaches teleconference. Calipari stated that he wasn’t talking about the past but, instead, the future.

What made that night, in my opinion, incredibly important isn’t just that Kentucky had 5 guys picked in the first round, but rather that Daniel Orton ended up being picked in the first round. In an ironic twist, Orton may have an even bigger impact at Kentucky than any guy not named Anthony Davis.

Daniel Orton played in all 38 games his freshman year at Kentucky. He averaged 13.2 minutes, largely in a backup role to DeMarcus Cousins. He scored 3.4 points per game and grabbed 3.3 rebounds per game. Eight times he failed to score a single point, including in the NCAA East Regional Final against West Virginia. Only twice did he score in double figures and not once did he grab double digit rebounds. And yet, even with that lackluster, unremarkable season Daniel Orton believed he was ready for the NBA after one year in Lexington. And incredibly, the Orlando Magic drafted Orton with their one and only pick in the first round.

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