Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Cousins, Orton Thinking Final 4 at Kentucky; St. John's Losing Wait, Young; Flynn Signs with Agent
NEW YORK – Daniel Orton will play for Kentucky next year, and he believes there’s no telling how far the ‘Cats can go.
The 6-foot-10, 260-pound center from Oklahoma City (OK) Bishop McGuinness said Thursday at the Jordan Brand Classic practice that he would remain at Kentucky despite the recent coaching change.
“I’m still at Kentucky, I’m still at Kentucky,” said Orton, the No. 4 center in the Class of 2009. “I’m going to stay here.”
When asked if he ever considered leaving after John Calipari took over for the fired Billy Gillispie, Orton said, “There was that time that from when Coach G got fired, I was little frustrated with everything. There was a thought of having to go back through the recruiting process, which is a little stressful. But I just kind of dealt with it all.”
In the end, he opted to stay with Calipari: “Coach Cal’s a great guy and he just seems like a great coach,” Orton said.
In related news, Calipari announced that he had added former Kentucky stars Tony Delk and Scott Padgett to the staff, according to reports.
At Kentucky Orton will play alongside DeMarcus Cousins, the 6-10, 270-pound Kentucky signee from LeFlore (Ala.) High. Cousins initially verballed to Memphis and then picked Kentucky after Calipari changed jobs.
Calipari will have no shortage of quality big men, especially if Patrick Patterson does not leave for the NBA. He is testing the waters but has not signed with an agent. Somehow the coach will have to find minutes for all these big guys, but Orton says he’s not worried.
“I figure you can’t go wrong, two good players,” Orton said. “I am [excited about playing with DeMarcus]. It’s going to be fun, especially if Patrick Patterson stays, which I think he will.”
Cousins is actively working on both Xavier Henry and John Wall to join them at Kentucky. Both players are among the top five in the nation and have yet to settle on a final school.
“Theyr’e just laughing at everything we say, not taking anything too serious,” Orton said of Wall and Henry.
“It’s stressful,” Orton said of the recruiting process. “I’ve been through the process before. Going through it again, I couldn’t imagine. For Xavier and John Wall, they’ve been through it all, I wouldn’t’ even want to be in [their] shoes right now.”
How good can Kentucky be with Orton and Cousins, and potentially Patterson, Jodie Meeks and maybe even Henry or Wall?
“Final Four contenders,” Cousins said emphatically. “We’ll beat Duke and North Carolina.”
“There’s no telling right now,” Orton added. “Just wait and see.”
ST. JOHN’S LOSING WAIT, YOUNGSt. John’s coach Norm Roberts announced that first-year center Phil Wait plans to transfer and that head team manager/video coordinator Kimani Young has resigned from his position for family reasons.
“We wish Phil the best as he continues his collegiate career,” said Roberts. “We support him in his decision to find a situation where he can attain more minutes on the court.”
Wait played in 11 games as a rookie big man in 2008-09, averaging 1.3 rebounds in 5.1 minutes. Though a first-year player and considered a freshman academically this past season, Wait will have two years of eligibility remaining following his transfer. Prior to 2008-09, the NCAA granted him three years of eligibility because of his participation in organized competition at Gran Canaria Academy (Spain) in 2007-08, after reaching 21 years of age.
Young, the father of three children between the ages of two and six years of age, resigned his post after one season following a family tragedy. Young’s wife, Sharette Dixon, passed away on March 23 at the age of 38.
“I never thought I would ever leave such a great University and historic basketball program as St. John’s,” said Young. “As a result of the tragic events my family has endured this past month, I have to take a step back professionally to evaluate my goals, with the care of my children being the primary focus and deciding factors.”
“I’d like to thank Coach Roberts, the staff and the entire St. John’s family for allowing me the opportunity of pursuing my dream, and for the unprecedented love and support that has been extended to me and my family during this difficult time,” Young continued.
Young will return to his old position as the athletic director of the New Heights AAU program.
SYRACUSE’S FLYNN SIGNS WITH AGENTSyracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said sophomore guard Jonny Flynn has signed with an agent and won’t return for his junior year. Flynn signed with Leon Rose, also LeBron James’ agent.
“Jonny Flynn has signed with an agent and will enter the NBA Draft,” Boeheim said. “He had a tremendous two years at Syracuse. Jonny helped to elevate our program as much as any player we have ever had. We wish him the best of luck as he pursues a career in professional basketball. I expect Jonny will be an outstanding pro player.”
Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris have already said they will leave Syracuse for the pros.
Draftexpress.com and NBAdraft.net both have Flynn going No. 15 to the Detroit Pistons.
That leaves Andy Rautins, Mookie Jones and Scoop Jardine as the lone returning guards at Syracuse. Those three, along with Brandon Triche, the Co-Mr. New York Basketball with Lance Stephenson, will lead the backcourt.
ODDS & ENDSSherrod Wright of Mount Vernon (N.Y.) will decide this week from among George Mason, UCF, Kansas State and Hofstra, a source said….Memphis coach Josh Pastner reached out to Jarrid Famous, but Famous will not visit or consider Memphis. New Florida International coach Isiah Thomas also called, but it was a no go. The 6-11 Famous is set to visit Arizona this weekend and then announce his choice next Wednesday at Westchester (N.Y.) Community College. Seton Hall, South Florida, UConn, Missouri and Villanova are also in the mix…Former Rice head coach Willis Wilson and former Kentucky assistant Glynn Cyprien were on the Memphis campus interviewing Tuesday, according to Gary Parrish of CBS Sports…Oak Hill point guard Lamont “Momo” Jones said he enjoyed his visit to USC this past weekend but has no timetable for announcing. Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said Arizona is the only other possibility for Jones, but no visit has been planned…Oklahoma freshman guard Willie Warren will return for his sophomore year, according to multiple reports. Warren averaged 14.6 points and 3.1 assists.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.