A second Kentucky player withdrew from the 2016 NBA Draft on Wednesday, but he won’t be returning to Lexington this season.
Minutes after Isaiah Briscoe tweeted his return to the Wildcats, Marcus Lee — a rising senior who has played 100 career games at Kentucky — announced he is headed elsewhere in 2016-2017.
“I want to thank the University of Kentucky, the basketball staff and the Big Blue Nation for supporting me over the years,” Lee said via a press release. “I’m sorry it took me so long to come to this decision, but I’m trying to do what’s right for me and my family. I’ll always think fondly of my time at Kentucky.”
Coach John Calipari said Lee, a native of Antioch, Calif., will try to transfer to the West Coast in an effort to be closer to his family.
An ultra-talented incoming class — featuring a trio of five-star post players — was likely the biggest factor in Lee’s decision (though Calipari claimed otherwise).
“We talked it through together and discussed the team next season, which he said had no bearing on his decision,” Calipari said. “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.”
Earlier this month, Calipari guessed that Lee would enter the draft this summer.
“This is what he wants to do,” Calipari said. “I just told him to go up there and do your thing, and show the athletic player that you are.”
But Lee was apparently not ready for the NBA; DraftExpress.com left him off it’s Top 100 list, ranking him as the No. 29 player in this past season’s junior class.
He leaves Kentucky with 100 career blocks, good for 20th on the school’s all-time list.