October 17, 2012

Marcus Lee's brother reflects on what drove Marcus to the Big Blue Nation

For the last few weeks the general consensus had been that Marcus Lee was going to sign with a west coast school, near his Antioch (Cal.) home. But the recruitment of Lee did a full 180 degree half circle after Lee visited Kentucky for Big Blue Madness and saw what a great family atmosphere the Wildcats program offers.

Wednesday afternoon, Lee went ahead and committed to Kentucky; giving the Big Blue their fifth commitment in 2013, including four five-star prospects.

Just a few hours after Marcus pulled the trigger, Cats Illustrated checked in with Lee's older brother Bryan for the scoop on what drew the nation's no. 15 prospect to Lexington.

"The visit topped off what Marcus was thinking," said Lee, "They did a great academic presentation, then hanging out with all of the kids and their families, just made us comfortable.

"Just watching them practice and seeing how they get a bunch of talented guys and bring them together. You can tell when you watch a practice if guys are really interested in listening or not. At Kentucky it's obvious that everyone is all the way bought in. Kentucky, more than anywhere, those guys believe in what Calipari says."

Bryan Lee believes that his younger brother Marcus, an athletic and promising 6-foot-9 power forward, will be a perfect fit for Kentucky's dribble-drive offense; and in particular Marcus seems most excited about playing with the Harrison twins.

As a four man who is getting more and more skilled, but is most comfortable around the rim right now, Lee could play a variety of roles in the up-tempo Wildcats system.

"I think that the style of play is great," Lee said, "I played in a dribble drive offense in college and I've been able to tell Marcus some of the ways that he can be effective in that system. There are a lot of opportunities for big guys to get easy baskets."

"Most people don't know how well Marcus dribbles and I think that he'll be able to show a more advanced skill set and make plays offensively. He's never going to weigh enough to be a pure back to the basket scorer, but his off the block game is really improving."

The offensive end is still somewhat of a work in progress for Lee, but the five-star defensive stopper has a very specific role in mind on the defensive end of the court. Following in the footsteps of legendary shotblocker Anthony Davis, and then Nerlens Noel who is expected to have a good shotblocking year himself, Lee plans on being the best out of all of them.

"His goal is to break the shotblocking record at Kentucky, which sounds ridiculous to say, but that's his goal. We live that way, why not go for it?"

When it comes to playing defense in recruiting, one of the hardest shots to deflect is that of the other schools who are involved in the recruitment of a top prospect until the bitter end that they will not be getting a commitment. On Tuesday at his Antioch (Cal.) Deer Valley HS, Lee had to go through that as he told the staff of his other finalist, the University of California, that he would be signing with Kentucky.

"Telling the California staff is the toughest thing that Marcus ever had to do. He told them this week in person at his workout and he said it was just a terrible thing to have to do."

A homebody who is close to his family, and loves where he comes from, Bryan Lee admits that Marcus was a little emotional at first about leaving so far from home to attend Kentucky; but that this step was the best thing Marcus could do for his future as a basketball player and student-athlete.

"Every kid has to grow up, this will be Marcus' chance to do that; we're just so proud and excited," said Lee, "Lexington isn't a ridiculously busy city, so we think that Marcus will fit right in there."

Joining five-star prospects Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison and James Young[/b]; as well as three-star prospect [db]Derek Willis; in the 2013 Kentucky recruiting class, Lee's verbal might have been the nail in the coffin that bolted down Kentucky's fifth straight no. 1 ranked recruiting class nationally.

With the addition of Lee to the class, Kentucky's recruitment in 2013 should really begin to slow down. We'll know in the coming days, or weeks, whether or not four-star big men Tyler Roberson and Kennedy Meeks will still take their scheduled November official visits to Kentucky. Now that Lee is on board, it is unlikely that Kentucky would sign either Meeks or Roberson in the fall.

In fact, expect Lee to be the final fall commitment for the Wildcats in the fall, giving them five signees heading into the high school season.

The priority targets that still remain for the one or two more spots that Kentucky plans to fill for next season are power forwards Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon, as well as wing Andrew Wiggins (who still has not announced whether he will reclassify to 2013 or not).

If the Wildcats can secure the signatures of one, or even two, or these remaining three major targets, then this class should go down as one of the top recruiting classes ever assembled in recent college basketball history.

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