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Busting Brackets

Marcus Lee: Scouting Profile


The 2013 Kentucky Wildcats recruiting class has been talked about constantly whenever college basketball is mentioned. It is for good reason, when a school manages to rope in six McDonald’s All-American in one recruiting season, something that has never been done before, it should probably get some serious publicity. For readers who aren’t old enough to remember how the Fab Five were talked about around Michigan in their heyday, it was something like this.

At Busting Brackets, we have already examined the play type and skills of five of the Kentucky six. Their only unmentioned All-American so far has been Marcus Lee, a 6”10 power forward out of Deer Valley High School in California. Until now that is, today we will look at the final big time freshmen committed to Kentucky for next season.

While Lee had other appealing options, including rival Louisville and the in-state UCLA, Lee chose to got with the Wildcats and their star studded roster. For Lee, this could both a blessing and a curse because he will be practicing and playing alongside one of the most talented rosters in the country but he will also have to fight them for playing time.

Here is a highlight video of Lee in high school.


Long, lanky and athletic. Those would be the three words that currently best describe Lee. One of the best jumpers in his class, Lee makes it a game to dunk basically every ball he catches near the rim. His explosiveness combined with his height make it virtually impossible to block him when he goes up to stuff it. Of course, this also comes in quite handy on the defensive end of the court where he can block shots with the best of them. With Nerlens Noel leaving Kentucky for the NBA, Lee could quickly find his niche in the roster as the resident shot blocker in the paint.

Also Nerlens Noel like in Lee’s game is his passing ability. Both big men have great vision on the court and seem to understand the flow of the game really well. Not all big men at this age have the ability to anticipate plays before they happen but Lee does. He is also adept at kicking the ball out of a double team at the right moment and find open shooters for easy buckets. This will be a huge asset on a Kentucky team that will have a lot of offensive firepower.

Another physical attribute that helps Lee’s game is that he has very large hands that make it easier for him to catch passes. Whether Lee catches the ball in traffic, on the break or on the pick and roll, if he is able to receive the ball near the rim, he is going up there to try and dunk it on his defender.

As a rebounder, Lee hits the offensive boards with great anticipation and effort. He uses his length to grab rebounds over defenders and is very good at reading where the ball will bounce off the rim. If he isn’t boxed out, the odds are good that Lee will come out with the rebound over his opponent. That kind of hustle is something that both earns respect and playing time.


At the moment, Lee is a bit of a blank slate. This is especially true offensively where he is a bit of a non factor in the half court. While he dunks a lot, Lee hasn’t shown the ability to do more than that just yet. His jump shot has very limited range and will not be a consistent weapon for him in the NCAA.

In the post, Lee will need to develop some moves down low so that he can contribute offensively for his team. Currently, Lee does not have much of a post game and has survived in high school on superior athleticism and height. Well, that and a combination of dunking on defenders and in transition opportunities. While he will still have his chances to do that in division one, he will also be facing much bigger and more talented competition on a daily basis as opposed to what he has faced in high school.

While he is gifted with great length, Lee is not big and will desperately need to put on weight. At the moment, he does weigh more than 200 pounds which is usually average for a wing player. As a power forward at that weight combined with a high center of gravity, he will be getting pushed around in the post and getting boxed out far too easily. To really have the chance to be an effective player, Lee should be playing with 30 to 40 pounds more on his frame. While that might slightly hamper his explosiveness, it will be needed if he wants to make it to the NBA. In fact, this is another similarity between him and Noel who also needs to hit the weight room in order to compete with the bigger bodies in the NBA.

The weight issue also hurts him in the post as a defender. Players are able to back him down fairly easily because he is so small that he can be pushed around by larger guys without much effort. Lee would be smart to also really focus on understanding defensive concepts better, as it stands he mostly acts as a shot blocker and not much else because he doesn’t understand when to help, how to defend pick and rolls and how to communicate with his teammates.

What to expect at Kentucky:

Honestly, it is hard to say how Lee’s first NCAA season will go. When it comes to playing time, it is highly doubtful he will be able to take minutes away from Willie Cauley-Stein or Dakari Johnson so it is likely he will spend minutes both at the 4 and the 5. Odds are he won’t play many big minute games either because he will be buried in the depth chart. That is why it remains to be seen how good of a decision Lee made by deciding on the Wildcats.

If he decides to stay more than a year at school, it could very well work out for him as he will get way more opportunities if he chooses to come back for his sophomore year. If he decides to declare for the draft however, he could easily follow down Daniel Orton’s path as a bench warmer who has never found a role in the NBA.

Ultimately it will be his decision. Playing alongside so many talented players, and with a good coaching staff, it is hard to argue that Lee won’t make major strides over the course of his freshman year. The question will be whether he can develop enough of an offensive game to truly become a top flight talent.