UK Men's Basketball

Barring 'drastic' twist, Orton will be a Cat

Only something "drastic" could prevent Daniel Orton from playing for Kentucky next season, the player's father said on Tuesday.

"Daniel is set to go to the University of Kentucky unless something drastic changes," Larry Orton said before adding, "He's still got a decision to make."

Orton, who signed with UK last fall, has wavered on that commitment in light of the school's firing of Billy Gillispie as coach.

Orton is no stranger to drastic developments, which might explain his uneasiness. Since he signed with UK last fall, he suffered a major knee injury, which sidelined him for almost all of his senior season. Also during that time, his mother died.

The elder Orton dismissed the importance of the spring signing period, which begins on Wednesday.

"That's nothing," he said. "That doesn't mean anything. Daniel's in a situation where that doesn't mean anything to him."

After UK fired Gillispie, Orton asked for a release from Kentucky. So far he's been willing to wait for that release and reconsider the request. At the Derby Festival Basketball Classic last weekend, he confirmed that he's considering Kansas.

Coincidentally, Orton cited Kansas getting a commitment from another player last fall as a reason to sign with Kentucky.

"Then when Kentucky had the coach switch, we didn't know it would happen," Larry Orton said. "Kansas came back into play."

The Ortons spoke to new UK coach John Calipari while in Kentucky for the Derby Festival game. They hope to speak to him again this weekend while in New York for another All-Star game.

After the Derby Festival game, in which Orton had 12 points and 12 rebounds, he said the experience did not alter his view of UK in any significant way.

His father echoed that sentiment on Tuesday.

"Kentucky's already shown themselves to Daniel," he said of fan support for UK's program.

Kentucky is expected to add highly regarded prospect DeMarcus Cousins to its recruiting haul during the spring signing period. He had originally committed to Memphis before following Calipari to UK.

Two other top prospects who might make the same move remain in limbo. Wing Xavier Henry is not expected to make a decision until after playing in the New York All-Star game, his father said. The family is also awaiting a judgment on whether older brother C.J., who is a walk-on at Memphis, can transfer without having to sit out a season.

Point-guard prospect John Wall is also supposed to play in the New York City game. Then he's expected to visit Miami (Fla.) next week before a decision might be made. Sportswriter Tim Stevens of the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer noted that Wall was adding schools to his list as the spring signing period approached rather than zeroing in on a decision.

Nolan Dennis, another player who reneged on a commitment to Memphis after Calipari left, will not make a decision soon, his mother said.

Carol Dennis said her son planned to visit Connecticut, Oklahoma and perhaps as many as three other schools before making a decision.

"We're kind of taking our time this time," she said, "and not rushing."

Dennis committed to Memphis without visiting any other school.

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