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Who Can Replace Willie? Look at Marcus Lee


The questions will start being asked sooner than later. Who can replace person x who left for the NBA Draft? Well, I have one answer for you that’s actually easier than everything else. Just take a look down the bench at current sophomore Marcus Lee.

First off let’s compare their offensive games. When Cauley-Stein came to Lexington he was raw and very much a project that was expected to be a four-year player. Per SportsReference, if each player went a full 40 minutes as a freshman, Lee would have averaged 15.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game while Cauley-Stein have threw up 14.2 points and 10.5 rebounds.

During the first year, Cauley-Stein got nearly all his points from running the floor, finishing alley-oops and getting offensive rebounds and putbacks. Sounds exactly like Lee during his first two years in Lexington? We haven’t seen Lee score from outside of two feet, just like many fans cringed when Cauley-Stein attempted an offensive move during the 2012-13 season.

The coaching staff worked specifically with Willie to develop a strong baby hook shot while also improving his range out to 12 feet. In fact he shot nearly 33 percent from 12 feet out this year. Let’s all remember Lee was a McDonald’s All-American, so the talent is there for Lee to develop. If he adds in the same hook shot WCS has, it’s not outrageous to see Lee average double digit points next year.

Defensively and rebounding, these two are nearly identical. Both are true rim protectors, who look to alter or block at least every shot that they can defend. With their similar high-energy type play, Lee has the ability to step out on a guard, much like Cauley-Stein. Now, he won’t be a national defensive player of the year like Willie, but Lee’s defense can let Calipari and staff still run the same defense we’ve seen over the years.


Off the field, these are two of the most caring and good-hearted players to ever come through Lexington. There have been countless of articles written by nearly every outlet describing the type of work both Willie and Marcus do in the community. The two that stick out though, details Lee helping a homesick college freshman or befriending a 9-year old leukemia patient without anyone around the team knowing.

Willie meanwhile brought a 9-year old cancer patient to the Final Four. Thanks to a GoFundMe account, Blake Hundley was able to watch Kentucky in Indianapolis. This isn’t forced community service like you see sometimes across the country, these two guys genuinely want to help everyone they come across.

There was Willie’s colorful shirt underneath his jersey at least year’s Final Four and the picture of him coloring on the sidewalk. This past year we had Marcus Lee’s air guitar celebration and big smile.

So, come on down Marcus. There’s someone’s footsteps for you to follow and you know him quite well.


Article written by Bobby Reagan

One time representative of UK at SEC 3v3 basketball championships. Northern Yankee living the Kentucky dream. Follow me @uklefty22

7 Comments for Who Can Replace Willie? Look at Marcus Lee

  1. Dubowski
    2:32 pm April 11, 2015 Permalink

    totally agree here. I always felt they had similar games. Ive heard people talk about marcus playing the 3, and I always thought that was a bit ridiculous.

    Willie had a few inches on him, but Lee has great anticipation and quick elevation as a shot blocker. Obviously his time as a volleyball player helped him there.

    Queue the volleyball shoutouts next year akin to the wide receiver shoutouts the past couple years.

    Definitely will need to polish his offensive game though. Glad we still have him.

  2. Kyblue34
    2:33 pm April 11, 2015 Permalink

    I love Marcus Lee! He always has a smile on his face and his positive attitude is infectious. However, to say that his defense is identical to Willie’s is laughable at best. Lee seems to have similar problems as Kyle Wiltjer did on defense – not able to move his feet quick enough and not having very good court awareness. There is no way Lee can defend the guard or small forward position like WCS could. Plus, his shot blocking skills seem to be okay but not great as I remember several times this past year where he gave up easy layups to much smaller guards, which is why Cal had to sit him on the bench. Not saying he won’t improve over the summer (I’m sure he will), but I just can’t see him all of a sudden being a great defender next year.

  3. VirginiaCat
    2:57 pm April 11, 2015 Permalink

    Whoever replaces Willie, I hope that person is consistent and does not play great for part of the season and then disappear for other parts of the season. Willie said after the Wisconsin game that he was essentially a non-contributor and that it would eat at him the rest of his life. He commented that he could have done so much more for his teammates. Then why didn’t you? Some just shake their heads and say it was Willie being Willie. I hope his successor is consistent at least makes a strong effort when all the chips are on the line.

  4. bosshogg24
    3:03 pm April 11, 2015 Permalink

    Lee hasn’t improved much in the two years he has been here. The only thing similar between him and
    Willie is neither can score. Lee has no shot and can’t hit a foul shot he needs to fix both of these before next fall. One thing Lee does and I love it is he follows his teammates shots something no one else did.

  5. CopenhagenCat
    7:11 pm April 11, 2015 Permalink

    If you can block a few shots and dunk, then anyone can. Willie couldn’t hit a 2 footer. Not to sound hateful, I love my CATS but Willie was not as great as people made him.

  6. VirginiaCat
    8:34 pm April 11, 2015 Permalink

    I disagree to an extent, Copenhagen Cat. He was quite impressive on those occasions when he was motivated to put forth the effort. The problem is that he was often missing in action. That was no more apparent than the Wisconsin game when he was essentially a bystander. Two points and five rebounds in the national semi-final game. Had he played to his potential, it is likely that we would have ended the season 40-0. He added insult to injury by not bothering to go through the handshake line. He played horribly and then topped it off with a demonstration of bad sportmanship. He was simply not there for his teammates or the fans when it mattered most. Willie Be Gone.

  7. Leuther
    1:36 pm April 12, 2015 Permalink

    I really like Marcus but to come even close to what you’re predicting, he’ll have to dramatically improve his basketball skills. Hope he does…