After news broke that Isaiah Briscoe would be returning to Kentucky, big man Marcus Lee added his name to the list of players withdrawing from the 2016 NBA Draft.
The difference here is that Lee has decided to play the rest of his college career elsewhere. Lee told John Calipari that the Wildcats roster for 2016-17, which is loaded with talent, was not the impetus for the decision to transfer. Instead, Lee wants to “regroup” after going through the combine experience.
“Marcus Lee informed us today that he is pulling his name out of the draft but has decided he is going to transfer to a school out west to be closer to his family,” John Calipari said. “We talked it through together and discussed the team next season, which he said had no bearing on his decision. I also told him he was a semester away from graduating. With that said, he was still adamant that, after the combine experience, a year off and regrouping would be the best thing. As always I support my players and their decisions.”
Lee said “[I’ll] always think fondly of my time at Kentucky” and thanked the fans for support during his three seasons with the Wildcats. In 2016, Lee had career highs in points per game (6.4), rebounds per game (6.0), total blocks on the season (59) in addition to having the team’s best field goal percentage (68.0).
Judging by the team’s official Twitter account, Kentucky will think fondly of Lee’s time at Kentucky as well.
Above all else, we don’t know if we’ve met a player with a bigger heart than Marcus. We will miss him for sure. pic.twitter.com/y9x09v7JlO
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) May 25, 2016
Because he’s still a semester away from graduating, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman pointed out that Lee is unlikely to be able to play right away in 2016-17 at another school. Judging by Calipari’s statement, a “year off” could mean that Lee will either be back in the NBA Draft process in 2017 or back on the court in college hoops for his final year of eligibility in 2017-18.
As for Kentucky, the Wildcats are set to have one of the two best rosters in the country with Briscoe back and five top-30 players coming in next year. Currently, we have Kentucky listed No. 2 behind Duke in the Top 25 (and one) for 2016-17.