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.
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.