Orton 100% committed to Kentucky

LEXINGTON -- Daniel Orton is "100 percent" committed to Kentucky and is looking forward to playing for coach John Calipari

LEXINGTON -- Daniel Orton is "100 percent" committed to Kentucky and is looking forward to playing for coach John Calipari.

The Oklahoma City center signed with Kentucky in November when Billy Gillispie was UK's coach. When Gillispie was fired, Orton and his father, Larry, asked for a release from the scholarship. However, they decided to wait to see who the new coach would be rather than get the release.

After two weeks of trying to make sure he didn't want to change his mind about where he would play, the 6-10 Orton told his father Monday night that he was sticking with Kentucky.

"He's 100 percent now," Larry Orton said. "I asked him if he was sure this was it and he said it was."

The Ortons talked to Calipari in New York Saturday before the Jordan Brand Classic. The UK coach also talked to UK signee DeMarcus Cousins then as well as two other high-profile recruits -- point guard John Wall and guard Xavier Henry.

"All along the coaching switch was something we just didn't know about," Larry Orton said. "We got to talk to coach Calipari again and it all went well. He told Daniel how much he needed him and I think Daniel appreciated that. All along we just wanted to make sure this was still right for him and he said today he was certain it was right for him."

Daniel Orton, who is rated the nation's No. 3 center, had a tumultuous senior season. He needed preseason knee surgery and missed all but the final three games of the year. His mother passed away in January. Then Gillispie was fired.

However, Kentucky fans were the one constant for Daniel Orton.

"I just think the Kentucky fans are what really convinced Daniel this is right for him," his father said. "That was a large part of what he based his original decision on. "He believes he will work hard enough to play anywhere. He's not looking at being a one-and-done or two-and-done player. He's about winning a national championship for Kentucky. That's his focus. Not the NBA." The Ortons said Calipari answered every question they had Saturday. "Coach said what he needed for Daniel to do and answered a lot of questions," Larry Orton said. "It doesn't matter if (Patrick) Patterson is back or (goes to the NBA) or not. Daniel said, ‘No matter who is there, we are going to battle and win.' That's just the way he is." Larry Orton said he never doubted that Kentucky would be the right place for his son to play. "What we had to do was just wait and see who the new coach would be. The only reason we even thought about getting a release was in case we didn't like the new coach," Larry Orton said. "Daniel will fit in the offense. Coach Calipari told him he would play outside, but with the game on the line he would be inside where he could do damage. That's what he likes to do." Larry Orton says Calipari's fast-paced offense will fit perfectly with his son's game. "Remember, he played as a junior with a torn ACL and still got up and down the floor. He can run," Larry Orton said. "I think most people see him as a true center, but he can do it all. He can shoot the 3. He can handle the ball. He can pass. He can do whatever it takes to help a team win." That's one reason he worked so hard to rehab his injured knee this year because he wanted to try and help his team win a state title. His father said he was able to run and play in February, but the doctor waited until March to release him. "He has a pro work ethic and that's going to help him at Kentucky," Larry Orton said. "He has a very high pain threshold." He also has a special feeling for the Kentucky fans. "He likes people and he's in love with the Kentucky fans already," Larry Orton said. "Those Kentucky fans made Daniel feel so special back in November and again this month (at the Derby Festival Classic). I just hope they are as happy that he's 100 percent committed now as he is."

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