Elisha Justice (Photo by Menefee Seay)

Dorton, Ky. is a long way from Louisville.

Situated on the bend of a mountainous road in Pike County, about 1,090 feet above sea level. The town has about 3,200 residents, the median household income is $31,500, and the average house is valued at $60,000. Mining is the biggest source of income.

Elisha Justice calls Dorton home. Playing basketball was a welcome diversion, making a name for himself at Shelby Valley High School, making it possible to go elsewhere.

Dorton, Ky., just a few miles from the Virginia border to the east and Pippa Passes to the west.

Contrast that with where he is today, residing in one of the country’s 30 most populated cities, attending the University of Louisville with its 22,000 students, competing for playing time for a tradition-rich program that attracts more than 21,000 fans per game.

Elisha Justice is experiencing a culture shock of monumental proportions.

Add to that the fact that he’s playing for Rick Pitino, who is one of the game’s best known coaches. Also one of the game’s most unpredictable and most demanding coaches. If Louisville fans have difficulty figuring what Pitino is going to do next, consider what’s going on in Elisha’s mind.

What we know about Justice is that he grew up living and breathing basketball. His life revolves around the game, and probably always will. It defines him as others in Eastern Kentucky. He has a good three-point shot and he makes few mistakes on the court. He will do whatever coach tells him, sacrifice his personal and social life, anything to get better.

Some day soon, maybe not this season, Justice will have made the transition from Dorton to Louisville, from the mountains to the metro, and from a scared, uncertain kid, he will emerge as a player who has adjusted to the vast changes. Finally comfortable with himself and where he is, Justice will make significant contributions to the legacy of UofL basketball.

Really significant contributions.

Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

3 thoughts on “Elisha Justice at Louisville, a long way from Dorton

  • February 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm
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    Very well-written thoughts, Observer.

    It does raise the question of why we didn’t see Justice during the Georgetown contest, since as you said, he’s shown himself capable of taking care of the basketball when his number was called earlier in the season.

    But you’re right. Finding these kind of players with basketball in their blood is welcome, probably necessary, for this crazy town.

    • February 4, 2011 at 12:23 pm
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      Indeed, Mr. Red. I enjoy the thought-out posts here and at Cardinal-Laws. Makes me appreciate all the new technology at our disposal every day.

    • February 4, 2011 at 1:17 pm
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      We didn’t see Justice because Russ Smith is the more physical, better on-the-ball defender. No knock on Bullet intended.

      We’ll see more of Justice while Preston Knowles deals with his sore hamstring.

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