Billy Gillispie must have felt like a kid at Christmas on Sunday, even if Santa Claus still has two months of work before he arrives in the Bluegrass. Gillispie got a gift-wrapped verbal commitment from big man Daniel Orton, the 6-foot-10 center from Oklahoma City, before Orton headed home, following an official visit to UK this weekend.
Orton made the announcement at Lexington's Hyatt Regency, where a dozen or so Wildcat fans and media hastily assembled. The 260 pound center was enraptured by his stay and decided to end the speculation in an afternoon news conference.
Orton is rated one of the top centers in the country and gives the Cats a much needed big man recruit to the 2009 season.
UK fans celebrate basketball recruiting 12 months out of the year and Gillespie has kept Big Blue tongues wagging, seemingly involved with a majority of top-rated players across the country.
Lyons career at UK over
While Orton's announcement surely has Wildcat Nation dreaming of national championships, UK fans were slapped upside the head Monday by the sobering news that UK receiver Dicky Lyons, Jr. is lost for the season.
Lyons, who was injured in the second quarter of Saturday's game against South Carolina, will undergo season-ending surgery next week to repair his blown-out knee.
Coach Rich Brooks delivered the news during a somber media gathering in Wildcat Den on Monday. Brooks said Lyons is devastated. An MRI revealed that the senior receiver has a torn MCL and PCL, and that is his career in blue and white is over.
"You know what kind of personality he is and how much this all meant to him. He's devastated, obviously. It's a tough thing. It's not how anybody envisioned that this would end for him at Kentucky," Brooks said.
It's a stunning blow for the Cats -- Lyons is a fan favorite and one of UK's team leaders on offense. UK's receiving corps now has lost its only experienced player, a fact not lost on Brooks.
"There's a lot of snaps and some catches to be made out there, now that Dicky is missing," Brooks said. "This is a great opportunity for our younger receivers. Somebody's got to step up and fill the void."
Lyons finishes his career fifth all-time on the UK list with 141 receptions. His 1,752 yards receiving is fourth all-time and his 18 touchdown catches ties him for third-most in UK history.
Lyons is also one of our favorite players, given his willingness to do interviews and the frankness with which he speaks. Lyons speaks his mind, which at times, has put him in Brooks' doghouse. His legacy at UK forever will be his knack for making spectacular plays (one-handed catches vs. Mississippi State and Middle Tennessee) and his courage. Lyons usually held onto the football despite taking the big hit.
Football is his passion and in his blood. Here's hoping Lyons will be back on the sidelines before season's end.
Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.