In a cautionary tale for current and future University of Kentucky men’s basketball players with hopes of making it in the NBA, The Ringer on Tuesday published a story catching up with some of the former Cats whose fortunes didn’t rise to professional stardom.
Coach John Calipari has talked this year about his players being worth $1 billion, but there are also players who, perhaps, jumped into the NBA waters too soon and have struggled to gain headway since.
In a story titled “From Atop the College Basketball World to the Middle of Nowhere” by Paolo Uggetti, The Ringer talked with Marquis Teague, a member of the 2012 national champions, Daniel Orton, part of Calipari’s first recruiting class who seemingly left UK on bad terms, Archie Goodwin, the leading scorer of the ill-fated NIT season, Aaron Harrison, who hit clutch shots in big moments for the Cats but has struggled to find his niche professionally, and Kyle Wiltjer, the player who transferred from UK to Gonzaga and is now plying his trade in Greece.
Uggetti also briefly talked with Terrence Jones, another member of the national title team, who has bounced on and off NBA rosters, and Derek Willis, who plays for the Grand Rapids Drive in the G League.
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Each look back on their time at Kentucky fondly with some calling it the best time of their lives. Many say they had a hard time adjusting to the NBA and haven’t really been given a fair shake.
“It was night and day because with Coach Cal, I was the starting point guard with a lot of attention, the top guy. I was always used to things going my way,” Marquis Teague told The Ringer. “Going to the Bulls, you’re the last man on the roster. I was so young, (19) coming in, that it messed with me mentally.”
Orton, now 27, probably has endured the most, playing for 17 different teams from China to Lebanon, and he also voiced the most pragmatic thing about his career.
“At the end of the day, this is my job, this is what I have to do,” Orton told The Ringer. “This is what I chose to do, so you can’t be too upset about it. You can’t complain too much, you’ve just gotta go. If I wanted to do something else, I’d quit. It’s just … this is what I want to do.”
Read the full story here.