"I am a little surprised with him having a press conference before he got back home, but he's ready to make his choice," said Andy Fisher, the assistant coach at Bishop McGuinness High School where Orton plays. "I have not talked to him this weekend because he left his phone in Oklahoma City."
Orton is considered a five-star prospect by Scout.com and is rated as the third-best center in the 2009 recruiting class. Recruiting analysts rate his strengths as his defensive presence, shot-blocking ability and overall strength. Orton, who was thought to be down to Kentucky and Kansas for his final choices, was popular with UK fans at Big Blue Madness as well as an open gym on Saturday where he worked out with current UK players.
"He is a great kid. He handles business off the floor as well as he does stuff on the floor," Fisher said. "He is everything you would want in a son. He helps kids around the city. He's very active around school and is friends with everybody. You will not talk to anybody here who doesn't like him."
Even though he's been one of the nation's top recruits, Fisher says that has not changed his personality.
"He is very humble and still wants to get better. He works hard in practice every day and then will spend an hour to an hour and a half shooting after practice," Fisher said. "He is really dedicated to basketball. He will be ready to play in college and will make a great player." Fisher has coached Orton for three years, but has known him for seven years. He can remember when he was a 6-6, lanky ninth-grade player before he grew and developed even more.
"I think it was after his sophomore year that it started to sink in with all of us that he could be a special player," Fisher said. So how good is Orton?
"Potentially, his all-around skills could be as good as you will find," Fisher said. "He can put the ball on the floor and he could lead a fast break if needed. He can probably outrun most guards and even most point guards. He can flat run. If he wants to get up and down the court, he really can.
"He can also shoot the 3. He's very capable of doing that. We run a lot of ball screens and let him shoot the 3. But the most impressive thing about him might be his passing. He sees the floor very, very well for a big guy."
Orton, who turned 18 in August, has broad shoulders and Fisher anticipates he will add more bulk in college.
"He could well be one of those special 6-11, 275-pound players," Fisher said.
Orton had a busy AAU summer circuit but he found time to attend UK's Elite Camp in June even though he couldn't participate because of an injury. He came back for a second camp in August — and even celebrated his birthday in Lexington. He got to play pickup games with the Cats then and noted how much he liked UK sophomore Patrick Patterson.
"He has an engaging personality. He will sit and talk to anybody," Fisher said. "Nobody is ever bigger than him. He will go up to anybody and talk. Wherever he's at, he will do his best to talk to everybody there."