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.