Five U.K. players going into NBA draft

UK announced Wednesday that five Wildcats will put their names in NBA draft. Kentucky freshmen Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton and John Wall and junior Patrick Patterson will enter their names. A news release from UK says all five players are projected as first-round picks.

It marks the second straight season a UK player has declared early for the draft. All-American Jodie Meeks decided to forego his senior season last year to turn pro.

Bledsoe averaged 11.3 ppg while hitting 49 three-pointers and shooting 38 percent from behind the line in his freshman campaign. Bledsoe finished sixth on UK’s all-time freshman scoring list (419), second on the three-point field goals made list (49) and fourth on the freshman assist list (107). “I never thought I’d be in this position after one year,” Bledsoe said. “Coach Cal pushed us all to be the best we could be and he believes I’m prepared to take my game to the next level. I want to thank the fans for all their support this year.”

Cousins was second on the team in scoring, averaging 15.1 ppg while posting a team-best 9.8 rpg average, all in only 23.5 minutes per game. He destroyed the UK freshman rebounding record by nearly 100 rebounds and scored the second-most points by a UK freshman, behind teammate John Wall.

The Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year also led the Wildcats in double-doubles this season with 20, the most by a UK player since 1973 and the fourth most in a season in Kentucky basketball history. “Coach challenged me to grow on and off the court this season,” Cousins said. “I believe my game expanded along with my maturity. This year was the most fun I’ve ever had playing basketball and a lot of it had to do with the support I got from our fans.”

Orton served as the Wildcats’ sixth man this season and finished averaging 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds. He was second on the team in blocked shots with 53 and ranked eighth in the SEC in blocks per game (1.4). “Being at Kentucky allowed me to play with some of the most talented players in the country,” Orton said. “Battling with DeMarcus (Cousins) and Patrick (Patterson) every day helped improve my game. I want to thank the coaching staff for helping put me in a position to be drafted this year.”

Patterson ranked second in the SEC and 12th nationally in field goal percentage (.575). He recorded nine double-doubles this season, fourth most in the SEC, and 11 double-digit rebounding performances. He finished his junior season ranked 13th on Kentucky’s all-time scoring list (1,564) and sixth on Kentucky’s career double-double list with 30. “I want to thank the fans who have supported me all three years,” Patterson said. “I also want to thank the coaches for putting me in a position to showcase other parts of my game as well as my versatility. Lexington and UK will always be a special place to me.”

Wall led the Wildcats in scoring (16.6), assists (6.5) and steals (1.8) while setting the school single-season assist record with 241. The Adolph Rupp National Player of the Year recorded five double-doubles on the season, three in points and assists, and two in points and rebounds, making him the first player in UK history to record double-doubles in points and rebounds and points and assists.

“I’m not the same player as when I arrived at UK,” Wall said. “I believe I’m ready for the next challenge as Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans were the last two years under Coach Cal. I want to thank my teammates and the fans for all their support this year. I love them.”

“I’ve spoken with all five guys concerning the NBA and have encouraged them to put their names in the draft,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “They’ve all met individually with our compliance office to make sure they have a full understanding of eligibility rules and academic responsibilities. I’m so proud of these five young men, with everything they did for us on the court and the way they represented us off of it. It’s extremely unusual for four freshmen from the same team to have this opportunity, but it’s my job as a coach to prepare these young men for such opportunities.”

Underclassmen have until April 25 to declare for the draft and have until May 8 to withdraw their name from the draft.

The 2010 NBA Draft will take place on June 24.

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  • by Jim on Apr 14, 2010 at 07:26 AM
    Dude, you are missing the point. According to your thinking, then Northern Iowa deserved a higher seed then Kansas because they beat them. Kansas deserved the top seed in the tournament, but was not rewarded for having the best season. They got hosed by the committee and was placed in the toughest region if you look at the other teams that were placed there. Duke won a watered-down ACC and would have been lucky to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big East, but was rewarded with the weakest bracket. This was not only my opinion, but also the opinion of analyst on both CBS and ESPN. Also, I'm no fan of Clark Kellog, but he was even speechless about a couple of the calls that went in favor of Duke in the championship game at very important moments. In other sports, you don't see this all-out favoritism that Duke receives. This is a major factor for the large sentiment of fans with negative connotations for the Duke program whether you want to believe it or not.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 13, 2010 at 05:09 PM
    hey jim. ky. got bad calls that went there way also. and if west virginia deserved the number 1 seed over duke, then why did duke beat the tar out of them? hmmmmmmm. seems to me like they deserved it.we played in the weakest conference so you cant compare games.we shouldnt have beat mississippi state EITHER game but the refs called it our way. and i am a ky. fan but not like i used to be. and id rather be a hater to guys on a team who dont deserve a championship than a bandwagin jumpin,20th century uk fan.we deserved it in the 90s thats why we got it. alot of uk fans are terrible bball fans and need to grow not the only one who feels this about the team.
  • by Jeremy Location: Pike on Apr 12, 2010 at 07:46 PM
    To everyone reading posts on this thread, I issue this statement. Jeremy from Eastern, Ky is talking nothing but foolishness and is probably not a UK fan while Jeremy from Pike (also Eastern, Ky) is a huge UK fan. Jim, I thought you directed your comment at me not being a UK fan and I started laughing b/c that could not be further from the truth. The other Jeremy is either a UK hater or is simply not moved on after the loss. I agree with you that Duke got so many things handed to them. I sat on the couch and laughed at the #1 seed. I thought it should have gone to WVU until they were dismantled by Duke. Either Duke or Syracuse was getting the winner of the play in game b/c the play in game is held on Tuesday. UK and KU both played on Thursday, Duke and Syracuse on Friday. The committee ranked Duke higher than Syracuse, so they got the play in winner. By the way, Singlar is good, but not as good as the other Jeremy says he is. Also, I would have taken Lebron wearing UK Blue.
  • by Jay on Apr 12, 2010 at 03:43 PM
    Seems the media really doesn't care about free speech. I posted a negative comment about this article and IT WAS CENSORED OUT. The media is a bunch of hypocritical idiots, and if you really do believe in freedom of speech you will let this comment be posted.
  • by Jim on Apr 12, 2010 at 05:48 AM
    Jeremy, You can't be a true-blooded UK fan. You are taking up for dUKe? What's that about? You wouldn't want Lebron to play for UK if he had a year of eligibility? That sounds a little crazy! Duke received preferential treatment from the NCAA committee in their seeding. They were basically awarded the #1 overall seed, got the winner of the play-in game, and also had the weakest 2 and 4 seeds in their bracket. This is just not my take on things. This was also the view of the analyst on ESPN and CBS after the brackets were announced. They were shocked that Duke even got a #1 seed and WVU didn't. Did you watch the Duke-Baylor game? Baylor up 2 with 4 minutes to go and a terrible charge call on a made basket changed the entire momentum of the game. You cannot dispute the fact that was one of the worst calls in the tournament. It wasn't even close to a charge. How many of those calls did you see go against duke? The referees weren't the main reason duke won, but it was a factor!!
  • by darin Location: dayton, ohio on Apr 10, 2010 at 04:41 PM
    Well heres my two cents for what it is worth. Wall, Cousins, and Patterson are all ready. Bledsoe could have used another year from a consistency standpoint, but if I was projected a first round pick with guaranteed money, I guess I cant blame him. But Orton? Are you kidding me? Apparently not. But whatever with him. If he drops into the second round theres no guaranteed contracts. As far a Calipari goes, 35-3 isnt bad when he took over a team with one good to excellent player in Patterson. It will take some time to rebuild the core team as it was depleted considerably when he came here. By that I mean a solid base that stays 3 or 4 years instead of one and gone like this year. The reason we had so many of them this year is he HAD NO TALENT to work with starting out besides PP and Miller. He knows exactly how to build a team and how to win or he wouldnt be here. Give him maybe 2 more years and he will have all the pieces in place. Remember when Pitino came here it took him 6 yr.
  • by jeremy Location: eatern ky on Apr 10, 2010 at 01:39 PM
    Jim dont go blaming the referees and anyone else that duke won. they would have beat ky. as bad as west virginia did.Who also had players who stayed.If anyone got bad calls it was kentucky. John wall got every call his way when someone slapped at the ball. most of the time didnt even touch him. Singler is a better player than any of them and you know it.And i wouldnt want lebron here anyways.I dont want his cockiness here. all he can do is dunk. Just give duke there props man. Theyve won 2 titles. Weve won 0.
  • by Dave Location: Union on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:49 AM
    It was a fun ride this year. However, note that Duke beat West Virginia by 20. How would that game have been? Also, all the teams in the Final Four had some seniors not any one and dones. Without experienced seniors we still might not win any championships for a while.
  • by Jeff Location: Corbin on Apr 10, 2010 at 08:27 AM
    For the first time in a long time, I found myself actually pulling for Duke this year. Keep up the good work Coach Cal, you will make hundreds or thousands of Kentuckians Duke fans if you continue this kind of recruiting. LOONY!!!
  • by Jim on Apr 10, 2010 at 08:25 AM
    Jeremy, Duke won with 3 seniors, 2 juniors, 9 senior citizens(stripes in last 3 games), a sympathetic selection committee that overseeds, and an influential television network that lusted for them to be there. All is a recipe for a championship run. These are primarily the same guys that got blown out by Villanova in last year's tournament. Did they really improve that much? I understand your point about learning to play with each other and there is a greater chance of having a better team the longer players stay. Yet, if not for the NBA rule, most of these guys would have never seen the inside of Rupp arena. Think about it, if this rule would have been in place a few years ago, Lebron would have had to pick a college. Would you have had a problem if he chose UK and then left the next year? Not me. That's why I would rather have a continued influx of great talent, even if it is a bunch of one and dones, instead of waiting and hoping a team matures by their senior year.


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