Posted: 1:16 p.m. Monday, Sept. 2, 2013
By James Streble
It's always good to have a spark plug come off of the bench. You know, the guy that comes in the game and gives the team a boost of energy. Usually this player is a high energy individual that can come and deliver a "wow" play.
Marcus Lee may be that spark plug for the Wildcats this season. He is known for his high flying dunks and his monster blocks. Lee is also a great volleyball player which showcases his skill as a leaper. He can get off of the floor quickly and erase any shots around the rim. His athleticism and length made him one of the most coveted big men in the country.
Lee is a five star recruit and a McDonald's All American. He had offers from Arizona, Duke, Louisville, Kansas, Kansas State and a seemingly endless list of other suitors. He decided on Kentucky because John Calipari didn't guarantee him anything other than he will have to work harder than he has ever worked before.
Lee has been putting in the work during the offseason as he enrolled at Kentucky in the summer in order to practice and mesh with his new teammates. Lee has taken advantage of learning from elder statesmen and fellow big men Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein. He has also benefited from the leadership and relentless engine of Julius Randle.
Lee is not as far along offensively as WCS, Poythress, Randle or even Dakari Johnson; but he will have a major part to play on this team this season.
With a nickname like pogo stick, one can easily see how Lee will fit perfectly into that spark plug role.
Height - 6'10
Weight - 205
Position - Power Forward
Lee's strengths lie in his defensive prowess and his ability to run the court. His height and his wing-span cover a lot of ground and will force smaller, driving offensive players to dish it off or face a possible blocked shot. A long athletic tandem of Lee and Cauley-Stein is a frightening prospect for coaches to adjust their plan during the game. Lee also has plenty of room for improvement and a high ceiling as far his talent is concerned.
There is no doubt that Marcus Lee needs to bulk up. Opposing power forwards and centers will easily push him around under the basket. Hopefully Lee has been in the weight room all summer long working on his frame. Lee is not as polished on the offensive end as the rest of the players in the front court. He can score effectively around the rim but once he gets outside his offensive game takes a hit.
Coach Calipari On Lee:
"Marcus Lee is a long, agile, quick-bounce, quick-twitch, 6-(10) forward. He gets to the basket, he's a terrific shot-blocker and he can rebound above the rim. Marcus has unlimited upside because he's going to get stronger and he's going to improve his skill around the basket. His speed, quickness, jumping ability and length set him apart."
It's doubtful at this point that Marcus Lee will start for the Wildcats in 2013 but that does not diminish his importance. John Calipari loves his defense and loves his athleticism, so Lee will get his minutes. He adds another body to the best front court in America. A rotation of him, WCS, Randle, Poythress and Johnson is better than any in the country and may be on par with some teams in the NBA.
Lee will put up his biggest numbers with blocks and rebounds. It's doubtful that Cal will run any offense at all through Lee, but that doesn't mean that he won't get the ball in his hands to score. An expert passer like Andrew Harrison will put Lee in good position to score.
Lee isn't projected to jump to the NBA after one year at Kentucky, which is actually good news for the Wildcats. A sophomore Marcus Lee that has practiced with the best big men in the country will do wonders for Calipari in 2014.
But there have been surprises in the past. Nobody expected Daniel Orton, Eric Bledsoe or Archie Goodwin to jump after their freshmen season. The Kentucky Effect gives the Wildcat players an extra bump when it comes to the draft.
2012/2013 Recruit Mix Tape:
In the Next Preview: Derek Willis Chooses the Wildcats over the Team of His Youth