Sounds like some of this has maybe been blown up into more than what it was, but I got a couple of emails asking about what John Calipari said today about Daniel Orton considering the NBA, and figured I’d reprint the transcript here.
What Calipari said is that Orton could have options at the end of this season — and from the way I took it, this was more about Calipari trying to give the kid his due (and make him feel appreciated) than any real belief that Orton would bolt for the NBA after this season. But you can be the judge. Here’s the exchange:
Q. Would you walk me through the recruitment or re-recruitment of Daniel Orton? And what was it that you said that perhaps convinced him that this is still the institution that we want you to play?
CALIPARI: That’s a great question. In our locker room after one of our games I was proud of how he played and how he’s responded to this team. And I said, Daniel, when you were recruited here, what did they tell you? They told me I would start. Did they tell you you’d be the man? Yes, they did. And I said, Now all of a sudden, guys, he’s playing behind DeMarcus Cousins, and, you know what, all he’s done is helped our team win.
And I’ll tell you right now, Daniel will have options at the end of the year to make a decision on what he wants to do. Can you imagine? And I’m not sure that would have happened if he was on a team that was an NIT team. You hear what I’m saying? Now they’re looking at him saying this kid is really, really good. And he is.
The other side of it is people love his attitude in that he’s dealt with it. But he’s a talented big player who blocks shots, who rebounds. And he’s taken on his role to say I’m going to do whatever I need to do.
At the end of the day, like I told him, it’s worked out better for you. You’re going to be fine. If you choose to do something, it’s there for you. If you choose to come back, that’s fine, too.
Q. Did you know anything much about him?
CALIPARI: Oh, sure, sure. He played for the Oklahoma AAU team that we recruited very hard. I was recruiting Xavier Henry. We weren’t involved with Daniel because that was so far down the road with a couple of schools recruiting him. But I watched him play a hundred times and saw all the stuff.
He’s very skilled, too. You haven’t seen enough of his shooting because of how we played. But you can put him in pick-and-rolls, he can shoot free-throw shots, he can shoot threes. He’s elbow jumpers, he’s talented.
I’d only add this — a big game from Orton would be a huge plus against the bigs of Wake Forest. And it only can help Calipari if Orton is thinking along the lines of needing to be particularly impressive against the Deacons.
One last tidbit that I will point out here — note the “I’m not sure that would have happened if he was on a team that was an NIT team. You hear what I’m saying?” Was that little bit of a shot? I’m just saying …