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Despite rumors to the contrary, Darnell Dodson will play for the Wildcats in the fall.

By LARRY VAUGHT

Darnell Dodson will be back at Kentucky for his junior season.

Matt Eisele, the head coach at Miami Dade College, says his former player “will be back” with the Wildcats next season even though UK coach John Calipari proclaimed several times in the last month that UK would have only four players back off this year’s team. The four were Darius Miller, Josh Harrellson, Jon Hood and DeAndre Liggins. However, Dodson’s status apparently has changed and now he’s back in Calipari’s good graces.

“I don’t want to get into any other stuff, but Darnell will be back at Kentucky,” said Eisele Monday. “He is happy there and appreciates what coach Cal and (assistant) coach (Orlando) Antigua have done for him. Coach Antigua recruits my guys and is a good guy.”

Kentucky got a verbal commitment from current 6-11 Miami Dade product Eloy Vargas over the weekend.

Dodson started seven games last season and played in 35 after transferring from Miami Dade. He averaged 6.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 14.5  minutes per game. He shot 34.7 percent (50-for-144) from 3-point range and led UK in 3-point field goals.

He had eight games where he scored in double figures, including a career-high 19 points against Hartford when he was 6-for-10 from 3-point range. He also had 16 points against Vanderbilt and was in double figures in three other Southeastern Conference games.

“Darnell can play. The two biggest things he has to do are play with more effort and be more consistent on defense,” Eisele said. “It is the first time he has been in a situation where he is not the first scoring option. He’s always had the ball in his hands and it has been an adjustment for him.

“Coach Cal has done a great job with him. He had some good non-conference games and some good games in the SEC. The best basketball is still ahead for Darnell. He’s fully focused and committed now. He’s happy to be at Kentucky and will stay at Kentucky.”

That didn’t seem the case after the season ended. Dodson scored only 12 points in four NCAA Tournament games and played only one minute in the win over Cornell. In UK’s season-ending loss to West Virginia, he was 2-for-9 from 3-point range.

It was widely speculated he was leaving Kentucky and one rumor even surfaced that he was contemplating putting his name into the NBA draft. Calipari did nothing to stymie speculation that Dodson would not be back and said numerous times that UK would have only four returning scholarship players.

“Everything is fine now and he will be back,” Eisele said.

For a team that will be lacking experience — and potentially long-range shooting — Dodson’s return could be extremely beneficial.

“He is extremely talented. Kentucky fans have really not seen yet just how good he can be,” Eisele said. “Once again, with him and a lot of kids, he has to learn to be more consistent not only in games but every day.

“He obviously has to get stronger and better on the defensive end of the court. If he does that, I really believe in my heart that he could be the next person in that three-letter league (NBA). He is that talented. He can score the basketball. There’s no doubt about that. He just has to get more consistent on the other things.”

Eisele says adjusting to the  big-time college basketball atmosphere off the court added to Dodson’s transition period his sophomore year at UK.

“He is a good kid. He’s quiet with everybody and won’t say a lot. It takes a while for him to open up and talk,” Eisele said. “He’s really not after attention. He just wants to play basketball, and that’s something he can do very well.”

20 Responses to Dodson will be back for junior season

  • RICK ALDERSON says:

    Good to hear he is coming back.

  • UK Fan says:

    If you examine the credentials of the incoming recruits, they all seem to be excellent shooters, which was the key weakness in the 35-3 team. Even Poole, who is described as a slasher, and the two big guys, all have extended range on their jumpshots. Makes you wonder what kind of offense Cal has crafted for all these gunners to fit into. Knight and Lamb are quick enough to go down the middle. So is Miller. Liggins can shoot, and so can Hood and Harrelson. Guess it won’t be Bledsoe and a prayer this winter, huh?

  • brody says:

    This is a lie!! How will the NCAA allow Dodson to come back when he is suspended for the next year (2010) He failed many drug test this past year and the NCAA has suspend him. I don’t care what his ex-coach says. He must not know about the NCAA suspension. He will not be back!! Just wait and see.

  • patrick says:

    huge! I love the game of dodson he just has to be more assertive at times and increase his intensity on defense which will translate to more offense. He has good size and a great shooting touch. I believe dodson will show everyone how good he truly is this year and I cant wait to see him and miller with another year of experience!

  • gonefishin' says:

    When I hear it from the boss and not a JUCO coach I will feel more accepting of it as a reality. I hope he does come back as he can singe the nets. Another great group with more experience if he does. GO CATS!

  • Ken says:

    When he’s on,he is dangerous BUT when he’s off,he’s useless.I’m glad Dodson is coming back.I just want him to be serious about everything that is expected from him on and off the court like keeping those grades up and being a good representative for the younger players and the University.Dodson can play and hopefully this year he shows it.

  • KMan24 says:

    If he improves defensively and more consistent with the 3 he will help.

  • Jim Boyers says:

    I can’t say it any better than Ken, Patrick and Rick did. I don’t know what the cause of this drama has been, but this better be the end of it. This team will be WAY TOO YOUNG to deal with any type of distraction caused by a player’s bad attitude or strained relationship with the staff.

    I DO have to disagree with the statement that this team will potentially lack long-range shooting. From everything I’ve seen, Doron, Brandon and Enes are ALL excellent mid-to-long range shooters. I know things will be a little different in college, but I don’t see these kids losing THAT much of their touch, after they get acclimated.

    GO BIG BLUE!!!!

  • Tony says:

    Good news. Dodson was going through an adjustment period. If he embraces and accepts his role this year he will be another good piece to the puzzle. And sharing the pressure with other good shooting players he will find his comfort zone and I will not be suprised to see the player that Cal was recruiting since his Memphis years..if that tells you anything. This team is becoming more complete by the day. Almost there..one or two more and March will be interesting for the BBN…again. This year’s team will have more experience, a good blend of returning and incoming players, and some of the incoming players are not your typical newcomers (Kanter, Vargas). We won’t go 35-3 (30-8 if you ask Cal) but final four won’t be a big stretch (Duke lost 5 games)..now with Jones will be a different story.

  • Nashville Cat says:

    This isn’t quite as big of a deal as it would have been a few months ago. As it stands, he is probably the 4th best option at the 3 spot. And I think Jim is right. We shouldn’t have the shooting problems we had last year. If Dodson is on, then he is good. But he wasnt on that much last year, and struggled with free throws some. Which is not cool for a shooter to do. I hope his issues are worked out and he comes, contributes and graduates. But I’m just not all that excited about this as I would be another PF or C.

  • UKFMLY says:

    Every highly rated young man that doesn’t get to start goes through this. Nothing unusual or surprising about it. They have to adjust. Some transfer but most work it out.

    Again to me it is just another example of Cal being a players coach. Knowing how to handle the players of today. I am not worrying about his attitude next year because as Cal said often last season “The bench is the best motivator” if you don’t like sitting by me do something about it.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. GO BLUE AND CONTINUE TO RELOAD! ! !

  • larryvaught says:

    I’m with you. Have to trust Cal on this much like everyone did with the LIggins’ scenario and that worked out well for UK and Liggins

  • House says:

    Larry, Did you ever get the impression from Cal that Dodson wasn’t going to be allowed back by possibly a higher authority (UK school officials), and that it wasn’t really a matter of being on Cal’s bad side as much as it was a matter of Dodson breaking some kind of rule or possibly having grade issues? I always got that impression from him and wondered if anyone else thought this.

  • LindaS says:

    Brody, where did you get your information? Do you have facts? I’d like to see Dodson back, I think he can really improve and also be a valuable asset to the team. He has the body for defense and needs a little more time to mature.

  • Seattlekat says:

    Brody, your information is incorrect. Message board speculation and rumors mean absolutely nothing. If you have any information other than “this type of speculation” please post same. Otherwisw, please do not continue to spread rumors about UK players. Be responsible and accountable for what you say…back it up!!!

  • Jim Boyers says:

    Larry,

    I just wanted to know what the deal is with this post. When I left my comments above, about this team’s shooting, there were only 3 comments before mine, which I agreed with in my post. Now there are 7 AND the 4 new ones were posted HOURS before mine, but didn’t show up until now. The reason I ask is because UK Fan apparently made the same statements about the shooting, BEFORE me. I would have just agreed with him instead of posting something I thought was an original comment to the story. I just hate to repeat something someone else says, without giving them credit.

    I have noticed that this happens every once in a while, but not to this extent. I think 4 belated posts is a record.

    I ALSO would have told brody to get us some proof to back up his ridiculous statement. It doesn’t seem possible that HE could know something that the ENTIRE Big Blue Nation hasn’t even heard a whisper of.

    GO BIG BLUE!!!!

  • ClassyCatFan says:

    Brody seems to have been so emotional when typing his take that he knocked his Cardinal mascot bobble head off his desk.

  • Andy P. says:

    Larry, Matt May tried to get confirmation from UK on this and I suspect you did as well. Dodson’s coach is obviously hearing from Darnell that he will be back, but until someone at UK confirms it, we really don’t know.

  • larryvaught says:

    Andy, UK has never said he would not be back, so they normally won’t verify he is back. But his coach is also Vargas’ coach, so obviously he has been talking to Cal and Antigua plenty. I don’t think he would have made statements he did if he was not sure Dodson was coming back.
    And Jim that happens when comments have to be approved. Sometimes it takes me a while to do that, and then they go in order of when they were submitted. One glitch we can’t change. Sorry for the confusion

  • TRUBLU69 says:

    Brody…Go to bed…Larry, This is what I have been told as-well..No news on Dodson is good news..My nephew has seen him on Campus through out all this, So I suspect all is well with Darnell…GO DODSON!!…GO BIG BLUE!!

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