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Marcus Lee to ESPN: “My plan is to go to the NBA”

Yesterday, Marcus Lee’s brother told Kyle Tucker that Marcus was either going to play basketball professionally next season or return to Kentucky, dispelling rumors that he may transfer for a graduate season. This morning, Lee reiterated to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that his goal is to be drafted in June, but he won’t sign with an agent.

“I haven’t hired an agent,” the 6-foot-9 junior forward told ESPN. “Because I want to keep my eligibility just in case I decide to come back, but my plan is to go to the NBA. That’s the only goal.”

Lee said he’s talked it over with Cal, who understands that Lee will go seek feedback and decide from there, even if it means not coming back.

“I want people to know I am serious about this,” Lee added. “I’ve talked to Coach Cal about this, and he definitely understands that I’m going to the NBA this year.”

Goodman cites several NBA executives that say Lee could go in the second round, but Lee said he’s more focused on finding the right situation with the right team.

Here’s hoping he does.


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

56 Comments for Marcus Lee to ESPN: “My plan is to go to the NBA”

  1. crazzedcats22
    10:13 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    What stupid NBA team and GM would take Lee? He is kidding himself if he believes he is a NBA player.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      10:16 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      The NBA drafts for potential. You can teach alot of things, but you can’t teach the kind of athleticism that Lee has.

    • jkmann1
      10:34 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      Yeah but we’re talking about the “potential” that he becomes a guy that could develop ball skills. Marcus strikes me as an overseas guy, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    • leon singleton
      10:34 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

      Lee will do good under a good nba coach.

    • catdaddyd
      11:35 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

      I’ve heard he has been shooting 20′ jumpers consistently. Not hitting them but shooting them.

  2. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    10:15 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    I hope he is able to get to the NBA.

  3. ukbradstith
    10:16 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    Lee has probably graduated and is ready to start his pro career. It won’t be in the NBA, but he can make a nice living overseas. I hope he comes back for his last year because we could really use him while the new guys get adjusted.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      10:17 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      I don’t think we need him to help the new guys get adjusted. Hawkins and Willis will be there as seniors.

  4. Sentient Third Eye
    10:20 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    Lee has one hope at the NBA, and it rests on becoming a Walter McCarty style energy guy who can come off the bench in the 2nd and 3rd quarters and fire up his team during the quarters that are often just filler periods during the meat of an NBA schedule. But he also lacks the outside shot that gave McCarty extra value. He probably needs to expand his game to have a serious shot.

    • Loother
      12:58 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

      Walter McCarty could shoot – Lee can’t…

    • madarchitect
      2:07 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

      I believe that was covered in the original post upon which you commented.

    • GroundControlToNumber9
      5:28 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

      madarchitect – You don’t compare Marcus Lee to Walter McCarty without getting smacked.

      Outside shots didn’t give Walter extra value. He was multidimensional.

      Marcus Lee isn’t even single dimensional on offense and gets worked on defense by experienced guys.

      He didn’t take his time on the court seriously as he rolled his eyes at Tyler numerous times throughout the season.

      Dream on… nothing wrong with dreaming. But let’s not be silly.

  5. Not Dan Issel
    10:22 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    The comments some people make on this board are puzzling. Marcus Lee has been a great contributor both to the school and the community, as well as giving his all on the basketball court. Who’s to say he doesn’t have appeal to one or more nba teams. He certainly has great athleticism and a great attitude. I hope he comes back for his final year, but I wish him good luck in pursuing whatever his post UK dreams are.

    • deltasig41
      10:30 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      THIS THIS THIS…Say what you want about Marcus Lee’s skillset, but he is a phenomenal kid that has done nothing but bring positive attention to our state and University. I’m very proud to say Marcus is a Wildcat, even if his jumpshot isn’t the best. That isn’t what makes Marcus a special player. His length, athleticism, quickness, energy, and ability to run the floor is what makes him a special player. Don’t forget, he used those very characteristics to help get us to a Final Four in 2014 (he almost single-handedly kept us in the game against Michigan in the first half). I don’t know if Marcus will get drafted, and even if he does, I’m not sure he’ll make an NBA roster. But, that’s his goal, and he’s done more than enough for the University of Kentucky to deserve our respect and well wishes if he does indeed chase his dream. I really hoped Marcus would return for his senior season to provide experienced leadership for a young team, but if he leaves I’ll wish him nothing but the best and hope he lands somewhere he can be successful.

    • JoeMoney333
      10:31 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      Ignorance on a message board on the internet surprises you? Are you new here? This is the one place people can say that really dumb stuff they have in their head that really know is ignorant, because they won’t say it in public without the anonymity.

    • DelrayCat
      10:43 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      What was said that was so ignorant? That Lee is not an NBA player?
      How is that ignorant? He averaged 6 points a game. Six!
      he nearly averaged more fouls per game than points.
      And you guys are saying he is NBA quality? Do you all even watch the NBA?
      Terrence Jones is the last guy off the bench for Houston…doesn’t play at all.
      And he is FAR FAR better than Marcus.
      Now as far as Lee’s character…great guy. But delusional.

    • UK Big Board Update
      10:55 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      ^ Doesn’t watch NBA, but claims to know what he’s talking about. TJones has been solid for the Rockets, but has dealt with some injury issues this season

      Please, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t open your stupid mouth and act like you do.

      Oh, and Orton avergaged 1.3 pts a game and went FIRST ROUND. One point three!!

    • Mc12
      11:23 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      I like Marcus Lee. He has been great in the community. He’s been a decent role player. If he graduates, and decides to give professional basketball a shot more power to him. I personally don’t think Lee will play 1 minute in the NBA. That’s just my opinion. I don’t think it makes me ignorant. He runs well. I don’t think he has great instincts on defense. To me, he’s average on defense and a huge liability on offense.
      He told Goodman that he essentially was filling a role on the team and didn’t get to showcase his offensive skills that he possesses. I will agree he probably had to sacrifice somewhat. However, he’s had some opportunities to show his skill set. You could tell quite often, that Ulis was hesitant to feed Lee in the post. In the game against IU I saw Ulis feed him once and knew the outcome before he caught the pass. He has poor hands and hasn’t developed any moves even after practicing against complete studs. When Cal played Hawkins and Lee together against IU it was 3-5 when we were on offense.
      Hopefully if he gets to practice basketball as his full-time job, he can develop something. Otherwise, with his terrible foul shooting he will be too big of a liability to even sniff the court.

  6. DelrayCat
    10:27 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    Lee is really a poor man’s Nerlens Noel. Decent on defense, but terrible offensively.
    I think he will have a nice career, but overseas.
    He’s not an NBA player.

  7. secrick
    10:32 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    Good luck to probably one of the best ambassadors for Kentucky basketball that ever played for us.

  8. DelrayCat
    10:37 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    The problem is this is becoming too commonplace. It is our culture, and I for one don’t like it. Yes, it is for selfish reasons, but it also creates a situation where some of these kids make a big mistake. I know Lee would be a senior, but what is the point? Why wouldn’t he want to stay and try to win a title? Does it mean so little? If he is going to be an NBA player, he needs to work on his offensive game. Perhaps that is the problem. He has gotten all he is going to get at UK, and may need better individual coaching to take the next step.

    This whole culture at UK puzzles me. It seems to be working…to a point, but when you have to field 4-6 freshmen out of your top 7-8 every single year…you are very unlikely to win a title, no matter how many future pros you have.

    • deltasig41
      10:46 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      You’re very unlikely to win a title regardless of how many pros you have, or regardless of how many seniors you have…That’s why winning a title is so difficult, and despite being the best program of all time, Kentucky only has 8 of them. 8 out of 113 years of basketball. Roughly 7% of the time. And despite the fact you don’t like the culture and think it’s keeping Kentucky from winning a title, we’ve been to 4 of our 17 Final Fours since Calipari arrived…That means Calipari’s way of doing things has produced 24% of our schools Final Four appearances. It’s “only” equated into one championship, but obviously you have to make it that far to even have a shot. If the end-all, be-all for you is championships, then you’re going to spend a lot of your time as a fan miserable. Winning 30 games, reaching the Final Four…Those are real indicators of success, even if a team falls short of winning the title. And, obviously, Calipari’s culture has bred a hugely successful program.

    • theWilkman
      11:16 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      Hey Delray, why don’t you point us to a program with a culture that’s working better? Deltasig41 hits the nail on the head – if you judge success solely by titles, you are going to be disappointed almost all the time. I suppose we could recruit lesser talent like Villanova (even though they try recruit the same players as us, we just get them) and hope for a Final Four every 15 years.

      If anything, the “culture” of UK basketball is as great as I’ve ever seen it. The players of yesteryear are embraced by the coaching staff, the recent NBA multi-millionaires spend their summers around Lexington and rep UK constantly, and we are winning at an unprecedented rate. But I guess that’s still not good enough for some fans.

    • UK Big Board Update
      11:16 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      Except Cal did it in his third year…..

  9. MadScientist
    10:41 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    I wish Marcus the best in either path he pursues! He’s a good player, a great kid, and he has represented the University well. He needs to polish his game, but the fact is he isn’t going to be a traditional post player and he isn’t going to be a consistent long range shooter. But he’s a high energy defensive guy that’s a beast on the glass and an alley-oop machine. The truth is another year at Kentucky isn’t really going to make him a lottery pick. He would be an amazing fit for the Heat, Cavs or Celtics!

    • DelrayCat
      10:48 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      You people are delusional. Marcus Lee … on the Heat? Over who? Even their worst bigs..Udonis Haslem or Josh McRoberts..would completely school him. He wouldn’t even be a rotational player on their D-league team (the best in the league). No way you people actually watch the NBA.

    • UK Big Board Update
      11:03 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      In other news, Russ Smith and Montrezl Harrell have started a combined ONE NBA game.



  10. Mc12
    10:45 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    Based on the ESPN article, which provides additional quotes, it sounds like he’s definitely leaving and that he felt by filling a role, he was held back and didn’t get to showcase what he can do.
    Personally, if I got to practice against Karl Towns, WCS, Dakari, Randle, etc. I would think that my offensive game would have developed naturally.
    There are several players in the NBA that are terrible free throw shooters, but teams play them big minutes because they are complete monsters on the glass and rim protectors. Lee is neither. He’s a good athlete that can run. He’s an okay defender.
    If he graduates early, and gets to work on his game as his full-time job, maybe he can make a roster at some point. I wouldn’t bet on it, but that’s just my opinion. If he takes a shot at the NBA, good luck to him.

    • DelrayCat
      10:52 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      Yes, any future career he has in the pros…in any league (Italian, Israeli, or wherever Marcus ends up)…will be marred by teams doing the Hack-a-Marcus to force him to shoot FTs. No legit coach would ever allow a 40+% free throw shooter to set foot on his floor. Stats would dictate you just foul him every time you are down when he is on the floor. I’m surprised more teams didn’t do that this year.

    • UK Big Board Update
      11:00 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      Good god, Delray Cat is a f*****ing idiot!! Wow.

    • theWilkman
      11:23 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      DelrayCat – you do realize there are only so many fouls a player can commit each game, right? Explain to me how Deandre Jordan plays 33 MPG and shoots under 40% from the line? No, Marcus Lee isn’t on his level for the NBA, but he sure would be overseas. And as others have pointed out, there are way worse ways to make a living than playing basketball overseas. I’d venture to say playing for the Israeli league beats the hell out of whatever you do for a living.

  11. hweathers
    10:50 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    In reading analysis behind Skal’s decision, Lee’s decision may be best for him. Next year’s draft is going to be much stronger than this years draft.. so it could be the best decision for him.

  12. WillB
    10:59 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    Yeah I don’t understand some of the hate people have on him. Marcus Lee has been one of the best representatives of the team and university we could ask for and he deserves our respect and support. Go watch the Michigan elite 8 game again and read up on his philanthropy throughout the community if you need a reminder.

  13. raymond57
    11:12 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    Wish him the best but he has no chance to be on any team in the NBA next year. Look at the ones that left in the past Johnson, Orton, Teague, Harrison and where they are now? He might land in a D league or overseas but on an NBA team? Someone needs to talk to him but he might not get as much PT next season as he did this year as we will be loaded.

    • UK Big Board Update
      11:16 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      Damn. It would totally suck playing overseas, touring the world, and getting paid 6 figures a year, to play a damn game that I love….

    • Sarahvah
      11:18 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      Dakari chose to play in the d league this season. Can’t write him off just yet.

    • Mc12
      11:29 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      This will be his best opportunity to be drafted. If he has already graduated (and even if he hasn’t as he can still finish), leaving could be his best option. Hopefully he gets an opportunity to play professionally somewhere.

      If he really believes that he won’t get to showcase his offensive skills that he says he has, he’s not going to get that opportunity at UK next season.

  14. Mathlete
    11:34 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    Let’s assume he does end up in the D-league or overseas next year instead of back at UK:

    How many of us get paid 6 figures to work out, eat right, and play a game ? Not to mention see the amazing sights and experience the world while getting 6 months a year off to train and relax?

    I wish my job had those perks!

    • chrisg18
      11:37 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      You think D league players make 6 figures? Yikes. Might want to check that. Overseas and D league are nowhere near the same.

    • Mathlete
      11:42 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      OK so the D-league pays squat + “opportunity”, but playing overseas isn’t the worst thing in the world either. I’d love to get to travel around (on someone else’s dime!) and play a game for a job.

    • UK Big Board Update
      11:50 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      “In the D-League, players make between $12,000 and $24,000 for a season. Teams often have long rides in between games and don’t always stay in first-class hotels.

      In Europe, most players make a starting salary between $65,000 and $100,000, often untaxed. Many teams provide accommodations for players, including an apartment and a car. Depending on the level of the league, the travel is less hectic than the D-League as most teams play fewer games over a longer period of time.

      Staying in the D-league does have its perks, though, money aside. Every team has an affiliation with at least one of the 30 NBA teams, so there’s always the opportunity to be seen by NBA scouts. Players can also be called up from the D-League to the NBA. A 10-day contract can be worth as much as $60,000. “

    • chrisg18
      11:54 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      I agree. Nothing wrong with overseas. D league only contract is a huge risk though. You are making $20k-$25k and just hoping a NBA team signs you. I don’t see how that is any better of a situation than coming back to college, especially at UK. The only benefit is that you can concentrate on basketball only. Although if you aren’t getting quality coaching like you would at college, not sure that makes a big difference. I mean the kids can work out by themselves as much as they want at their school.

    • Mathlete
      3:55 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

      The benefit is that he’s actually playing somewhere. Marcus is almost definitely going to be the third string behind the guys coming in this year. Possibly fourth or fifth depending on how Humphries and Wynyard have come along.

      When your options are:
      1) Maybe get drafted,
      2) Maybe play in the D-league,
      3) Maybe play overseas or
      4) Almost definitely sit on the bench…

  15. chrisg18
    11:35 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

    Criticizing his decision is no indictment on his character. I don’t know why people seem to think that if you say a negative word about his decision that means you think he wasn’t an incredible representation of the program and university. He was, but let’s be real. He was only a decent college player. I think we were all hoping he would be the next coming of WCS but that just wasn’t the case. I appreciate him WANTING to be in the NBA. I mean every basketball player wants to be in the NBA. Doesn’t mean they can. I know he has to stay positive through the process, but some of those comments are borderline delusional if taken literally. He can play pro, but it won’t be on a NBA roster any time soon, whether he comes back for his senior year or not. If he just wants to play pro somewhere, anywhere, and is ready to move on from college, more power to him.

    • Mc12
      11:56 am April 20, 2016 Permalink

      I’m not criticizing his decision. If he’s going to try to go, now may be the best time. I don’t think he’ll play in the NBA, which is fine. My criticism is more in this:

      “I did what my team needed me to do,” Lee said of his role this past season. “I had to do the little things like rebound and block shots.”

      “I’ve gotten a lot of feedback, and people are saying I was hesitant and didn’t have confidence in my offensive game,” Lee said. “But I do have an offensive skill set that was prominent in high school and in AAU. I am just working on getting that back again now and looking forward to showing this to NBA teams.”

      “In my mind, I can be a dominant player on that end of the court. I just want a chance to show that.”

      …IF he comes back to UK, he’s not going to get to showcase the skills he says he has. My criticism is that he has had some opportunities, and his offensive game never progressed even after practicing against studs. I don’t think he’ll be a standout player overseas or in the D-League, but he’s a smart kid. He can get paid to play basketball for a few years and will have the education to use too. Either way, he’ll be fine.

    • UK Big Board Update
      12:07 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

      What career moves have you made in your life, chrisg18?

    • RC
      12:12 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

      Thank you! I haven’t seen anyone question Lee’s character or demean him negatively. We’re allowed to both 1) love the player and 2) comment on his ability. These things aren’t mutually exclusive.

      Lee has been my favorite player the past couple of years precisely for what he brings to the court and the program. Love him. Really good college player.

      But, I question if he’ll ever be a rotational NBA player. In the NBA, everyone is athletic, everyone can run and everyone can jump. Some do it better than others, but the athletic advantages Lee has in college won’t be there in the NBA.

      My only criticism of this decision is the idea that Lee didn’t get to showcase his full offensive game at UK. Not sure this is true but he’s speaking for himself to NBA scouts and I guess this is OK. They’ll find out soon enough. However, Lee had plenty of chances to show he can shoot a jumper or make a legitimate back-to-the-basket offensive move in his 3 seasons at UK. I don’t think Cal told him NOT to score the ball inside when we were fumbling around at Auburn this year, or struggling against IU in the tourney. If Marcus Lee has a hidden offensive skill set I’d like to see it. Sure could’ve used it a few times this past year. But whatever.

      Good luck to Marcus Lee if he decides to stay in the draft. He’ll always be a Wildcat to me and I truly wish him the best.

  16. Cousins Fake Tooth
    12:23 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

    Is it April Fools day again already?!?!

  17. Loother
    1:07 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

    This is a no-brainer. Lee should stay in school and get his degree…

  18. StuckinLville
    3:15 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

    In one way Lee should stay to develop his offense, but if he hasnt done it by now he never will. On the other hand, Lee knows the draft is weak this year and that he will have guys playing over him next year. Lee is a great young man, but if he leaves early he will take the Johnson, Andrew Harrison route and find himself in the D League. But for him its come off the bench next year and probably risk any chance of playing in the NBA or go ahead and start making money. Honestly, he probably should have left after his freshmen year when he played so well in the tournament. Either way, I wish him the best. And UK fans really should stop bashing the kid, he has been great for the program and the community. It’s his decision, his life. That’s the problem with this country, people think they know what’s best for others and how they should live their lives.

    • Megan
      3:57 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

      If he hasn’t done it by now he never will? Jesus. Why do we have to be so opinionated? We live in a culture in which nobodies and never-will-bes sit at their computers passing judgment on others. Brings to mind that incredible quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

      “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

  19. Ky_Tom
    4:11 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

    As much as I like Lee, I say is no where near ready for the NBA or the D league.. He has NO ball handling kills at all…His basic skills…He can jump, and Run…He has No Shot,,, He grabs rebounds and He dunks the ball..thats it..IF Coach Cal has failed anywhere, Its with Lee…Not teaching Him to shoot the ball..or NOT letting Him shoot the ball.. ..

  20. A_Blue_Wildcat
    4:52 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

    I just don’t see the point in rushing out to the nba when you currently have no chance to even be drafted. Like is playing college ball that bad of an experience compared to playing in the D-league?

  21. kylecuomo
    4:56 pm April 20, 2016 Permalink

    I feel like Marcus is saying that he wants everyone to know that his ultimate goal is to get to the NBA, and he thinks that he is an NBA player and has a lot to bring to an NBA team. Which I believe is a good mindset to have, if you’re going to do something and put all of your effort in to it you should believe that you are one of the best. So, I think that he will go to the combine and meet with teams and see what they say and if hears some good feedback that he likes he will go ahead and stay in the draft, if he hears feedback that isn’t so positive he is leaving the door open to come back for his final season at Kentucky.