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Kentucky’s Orton, Bledsoe staying in NBA Draft

Associated Press

Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton said Saturday they’re going to remain in the NBA Draft rather than return for their sophomores seasons.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP)—Kentucky’s freshman exodus is complete.

Guard Eric Bledsoe and center Daniel Orton said Saturday they’re going to remain in the NBA Draft rather than return for their sophomores seasons.

They will join classmates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins in the draft. Junior forward Patrick Patterson is also leaving school early to head to the NBA, leaving coach John Calipari with some major holes to fill heading into next season.

Saturday was the deadline for underclassmen to remove their names from draft consideration.

Bledsoe averaged 11.9 points in the backcourt alongside Wall, the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. The 6-foot-1 Bledsoe made 49 3-pointers and created one of the quickest guard combinations in the country with Wall.

“I never thought I’d be ready for the NBA after one year,” Bledsoe said. “I worked hard to be able to have this choice. Coach Cal pushed me to be the best I could be, and I’m ready to take my game to the next level.”

Orton spent most of the season as a reserve center behind Cousins. He averaged 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds and was second on the team with 53 blocks. Orton called his season with the Wildcats a great experience but he’s ready to move on.

The 6-10 Orton is considered raw offensively, but Calipari said he’d received calls from several NBA teams inquiring about Orton’s ability.

“There are teams all over that first round that say we really like the guy,” Calipari said.

Bledsoe and Orton were part of one of the greatest freshmen classes in recent memory, helping Kentucky go 35-3 and win the SEC regular season and conference tournament titles.

Calipari has already begun the rebuilding process. The Wildcats have signed Florida high school star Brandon Knight and Turkish center Enes Kanter.

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