Tag Archives: Marcus Lee

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Marcus Lee talks recruiting with BDN

Marcus Lee, a rising senior out of Deer Valley (CA), has blasted onto the scene over the last six months, establishing himself as one of the top big men in the class of 2013. Boasting a 7’1.5” wingspan, the wiry 6’9″ Lee uses that length well to protect the paint.  Driving much of the attention has been Lee’s excellent summer on the hardwood.

Marcus never imagined he would receive the attention he has, even as his game has blossomed. He is extremely gracious for all the help his brother Brian has given him in the recruiting process. For Marcus, Brian has been the rock that he has needed to help him navigate the challenging recruiting process.

Lee recently arranged his final official visits, and is expected to make an official visit to Duke on October 27.

The bouncy big man was gracious enough to give BDN some time to discuss his recent trip to UCLA, his impressions of Coach K, and his relationship with his brother, among other topics.

BlueDevilNation: Being a west coast guy, it must be an honor to represent the west side out here in the Elite 24.

Marcus Lee: Oh yeah.  It was a great honor once I got the invite. It was just a real add-on to summer.  The summer was great.

BDN: Do you feel you had a good summer and played as well as possible?

ML: Yeah, I think I had a real great summer this year, and yeah, I tried as hard as possible and just tried to [private] get it done this year.

BDN: Your recruitment really blew up this summer.  Did you ever imagine all of this?

ML: (laughing) Uh, no, I never imagined all of this. It all came as a big surprise once it all started.

BDN: You had a chance to visit UCLA recently.  Can you go over that trip?

ML: It was a pretty great visit. The gym that’s about to open will be crazy.

BDN: Pauley Pavilion?

ML: Yeah, yeah.

BDN: There’s a perception about kids leaving the west coast.  Do you feel you fall under that at all?

ML: No, not at all. I feel like I’m able, I feel like I’m a chameleon and can adapt to wherever I go.

BDN: As with most recruits, their families hope to be able to watch them when they play.  Will it be important for yours to be able to attend the games?

ML: Yeah, it’ll be very important. It’s great to have your family and friends there to support you.

BDN: Do you feel like it’s a deciding factor?

ML: Uh, I don’t know yet. (laughs)  We’ll see when we get there.

BDN: You’ve set a bunch of your in-home visits recently.  Have you had a chance to set up the Duke one yet?

ML: Umm, I don’t think so.

Brian Lee: No, we haven’t set it yet.

BDN: You were at the Lebron camp this summer and got to see the USA National team practice.  Can you describe that experience?

ML: Yeah, it was great.  We watched them scrimmage and it wasn’t like high school. They were going after each other like they were playing a real game.

BDN: Going back to Duke, do they have a pitch they’re selling you?

ML: No, they don’t really have a pitch.  It’s just us talking together, trying to learn more about each other.

BDN: Were you able to keep in contact with Coach K while he was in London?

ML: Yeah, a little bit. We talked in an out. Probably mostly through text messages because it was harder to call.

BDN: You said recently that he’s really energetic.  Could you describe that?

ML: Just in his voice you can hear it.  You can hear that he’s excited about basketball, he’s excited about the team. He just has that passion.  He’s always excited.

BDN: How would you describe how he approaches you? Is it more like a friend or a teacher, or a coach?

ML: He approaches me as a teacher. I see him as a real great teacher that I can learn from.

BDN: Tell me about your relationship with your brother. Obviously he’s a major influence in your life.

ML: He’s the brain of everything. He gets me here on time, he figures everything out. He’s also my consultant. He’ll talk to me throughout the year and . . .

BDN: Keeps you level-headed?

ML: YES! He does everything.

BDN: What are you hoping to see when you go on your visits?

ML: Something to catch my eye. I don’t really know what it is, but I just know once I see it something will tell me to go here.

BDN: Is family atmosphere important for you?

ML: Yes, family atmosphere is extremely important.

BDN: Will you be staying at Deer Valley this year?

ML: Yeah, I’m staying at Deer Valley.

BDN: OK, just because there had been rumors in the past.

ML: (laughs) No, I’m repping Deer Valley until I die.

BDN: Do you feel like you have to be more vocal or is that something that comes naturally to you?

ML: I don’t believe I can get any more vocal than I already am. I don’t think anybody can get more vocal than me. It’s just the way I am. It just happens naturally. I don’t know where it comes from.

BDN: Do you feel there`s a difference between your role in AAU and high school?

ML: There really isn’t a difference.  It’s just that in high school I have to make sure everybody is on the same page, whereas on AAU, I already know for sure they’re on the same page.

BDN: Thanks a lot, Marcus.

ML: All right.  Thank you. [/private]

BDN Premium – Under Armour Elite 24 Recap

Julius Randle throws down a dunk – BDN Photo

It’s difficult to make any hard and fast judgments about players based on a game like the Elite 24, because it is a glorified pickup game, there is little defense played, and the guys are all just playing loosey-goosey and enjoying it as an end-of-summer outdoor event on the courts of Venice Beach, California. I mean, the final score was 164-138, OK? Nevertheless, there are always things to learn about guys any time you watch them, especially when playing against other elite-level players. Here’s what I saw on Saturday.

First, the “Marques Johnson” team had a huge advantage. Why? Coaching. Head coach for the squad was Duke’s own Kyrie Irving. While Kyrie spent more time on his phone texting than he did strategizing, it was good to see him out there and it was obvious how much respect he has from the guys. At halftime, he spent almost the entire time talking with uncommitted Pennsylvania forward Rondae Jefferson, but he also hung out with Julius Randle too, and they seemed to have an easy rapport as well.

OK to the game. Starting with the kids Duke is known to be recruiting heavily:

Might as well start with Julius Randle. First of all [private], he has a pro body right now. He’s been downgraded in some circles for having short arms, as that supposedly makes it harder for him to finish against length. His arms didn’t look short to me, especially when he was taking over the game in the second half, scoring five consecutive hoops en route to his game-high 27 on 13 of 14 shooting. He also has a very good handle for a guy his size, and likes to utilize it. When he does so and gets into the lane, he’s so big that the defense just sort of parts for him because they know they’re not going to stop that freight train. In real games, of course, guys will step in and try to take a charge, and he’s going to have to adjust to that. But seeing his game and his body, I don’t think he’d have any trouble playing some 5 in college if his team needed him to, though PF will obviously be his primary position.

Justise Winslow also has a very solid body and is much more athletic than I anticipated. He led his team with 21 points and scored them in a variety of ways. He drove to the hoop, he pulled up for short jumpers, he got put-back dunks, and he got out on the break (though everyone did in this game!) for some throw-downs as well. One thing I really liked was Winslow D-ing up one-on-one against stud guard Aaron Harrison and forcing Harrison to retreat after attempting to drive, and then to take a very difficult three-pointer instead. Justise took on that challenge, even in a game like this, and won it.

Marcus Lee out of California is a real string bean. He’s 6’9″ or so, but there’s no meat on the bones at all. He has excellent hops and blocks shots very well, including a big one Saturday against Kuran Iverson right at the rim and another on Austin Nichols as well. But Marcus didn’t display any offensive game at all, scoring only one point in a game in which his team scored 138. He looks like he’ll be better defensively in college than Casey Sanders was, but his body type and his lack of offensive game reminds me of Sanders, including when he airballed a free throw.

When you watch Tyus Jones play, you can tell the Minnesota point guard is an outstanding player. No. Better than that. He’s a special player. But he didn’t have his best game on Saturday. His handle wasn’t as crisp as it usually is, and he never really fully got into the flow of the action. One thing I did note is that when he and Andrew Harrison went one-on-one on a couple of occasions, Tyus seemed to have a hard time staying in front of Harrison when he went to the hoop, but at the other end Harrison bodied up on Jones and made him take tougher shots on his drives. But I wouldn’t be concerned about Jones at all, especially given the setting. The kid is a flat-out stud ballplayer, and Duke would be very fortunate to get him.

Austin Nichols, 6’8″ out of Memphis, impressed me with his athleticism and his body. This kid is not skinny at all. He’s not rocked up to the degree of a Wayne Selden or Justise Winslow, but he has some mass to him, and he’s going to gain more weight this year. He can jump too, though, and he runs the floor very well. He has good hands and finishes well. He didn’t shoot many outside jumpers in this game — not many of the kids did — so I couldn’t evaluate that, but what I did see of his game, I liked.

Other quick takes:

I thought the best player on the floor was 6’7″ Aaron Gordon out of San Jose. This dude has it all. His handle is very smooth, he’s got a strong body, he can shoot it, and he jumps out of the gym. If there was a gym. He wowed the crowd with a series of spectacular dunks midway through this game, and scored his 25 points in a variety of ways. The whole crowd was talking about him all day.

Carolina signee Nate Britt has a real good handle, but his lefty shot is awkward. And he shoots too much, or at least did in this game.

I really like the Harrison brothers out of Texas. Andrew is the point guard, and he has a very smooth handle and gets to the rim at will. He reminded me a little of Will Avery, but maybe even a little quicker. Both brothers are highly athletic but seemed to have kind of a strange affect out there, like they weren’t that engaged. Well, Aaron was engaged enough to score 25 points on 11 of 14 shooting, so I guess he was paying enough attention to do that. Really, though, these twins are killer ballplayers.

Uncommiteds Jabari Bird out of California and Kuran Iverson are both long, athletic, and active, and they both jump very well. While he’s a couple of inches shorter, Iverson, with his body type and his style, reminds a little of Kevin Garnett. A little.  [/private]

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Elite 24 Coverage of Duke Prospects on BDN Premium

Team BDN is in place in California where we are covering the Elite 24 for Premium members.  Get all the latest updates from today’s practice and Saturday’s game by joining today!  Several key Duke prospects are playing in the prestigious event, including Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, Julius Randle, Marcus Lee and Austin Nichols, so you do not want to miss the action!  Join BDN Premium today and discuss the latest happenings with fellow members on the BDN Premium Message Board.

Julius Randle is tearing up the Nike Peach Jam and BDN is here to bring you all the action.  Check out Andrew Slaters in depth interview with the "Real JR" and then watch our 2 videos of Randle from Augusta as a premium member and get all the updates as they happen.  A ton of information awaits you as a BDN Premium member, so join today and see what you are missing out on.  Photo copyright Rick Crank and BDN

Nike Peach Jam Friday Day Session Updates – Duke prospects shine

Julius Randle is tearing up the Nike Peach Jam, and BDN is here to bring you all the action. Check out Andrew Slater’s in- depth interview with the “Real JR” and then as a Premium member you can watch our two videos of Randle from Augusta and get all the updates as they happen. A ton of information awaits you as a BDN Premium member, so join today and see what you’ve been missing out on. Photo copyright Rick Crank and BDN

The Nike Peach Jam is in full swing and we are here in South Carolina to bring you updates on all the action and the latest on the many Duke prospects here.  Austin Nichols, Matt Jones, Julius Randle, Justise Winslow, Theo Pinson, and Jahlil Okafor are but a few of the informative interviews we have on tap.  In addition, there are some younger kids starting to catch the staff’s eye as well.  You can learn about them and much more as a member.  Considering the bevy of interviews we have up for Blue Devil Nation Premium members, if you’ve been on the fence about it, this is the perfect time to join.

Here is the recap of the Friday day session:

Howard Pulley 74 Team Texas 65

First of all, this game had some intensity to it, as Roy Williams, Billy Donovan, Tom Izzo, the Duke staff and others crowded the court to the point where they would not let any more people into the gym once the game started.  The game was much closer than the score indicates. A Julius Randle turnover allowed Pulley to go up 4, but he then came down to score and “and one” inside, which cut it to 1 with little time left. Pulley’s Tyus Jones drew a triple team and found an open teammate for a 3 and that pretty much sealed the deal. After a Team Texas miss, Jones quickly scored again on a drive and then assisted on another trey and that made the final score 74-65.  Despite his team being upset, Randle was a beast again, scoring 31 points and grabbing 17 boards.  While aggressiveness is something Randle thrives on (and as he told BDN, he feels he can take anybody off the dribble at any time) his aggression sometimes causes turnovers and could also make him foul prone at the next level.  But the big picture with Randle is he is a big-time force on the floor.  One coach sitting beside me quipped, “It’s hard to evaluate the players around him and those who defend him in that he’s so good.” I have to agree. Then there was Tyus Jones, a smooth, spunky leader on the court who thinks [private] “team first,” yet still gets his own shots too. Jones’s late heroics helped his team to a win; he finished with 24 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. Randle and Jones are now the number one and two scorers at the entire event.

Capel will follow Team Texas

Jeff Capel has been sitting with his brother Jason for much of the camp today. Capel said he would go to Orlando and the AAU Nationals and be anywhere Julius Randle and Matt Jones were playing. So, yes, there will always be a Duke presence as Randle nears his decision.

Semi Ojeleye continues to play well

Ojeleye scored 20 points and grabbed 3 boards as his team coasted past Bluff City Legends. I just love his size and strength.  I have a mini-interview coming with Semi.  I will tell you that the Duke staff feels really good about their chances with him, and that it could be over in the near future. He’s just a Duke kid through and through.

Jahlil Okafor struggles?

Part of the problem is his own play, but part is his teammates just not looking for him.  While I think the latter is the main culprit, still Jahlil was not impressive in Mac Irvin’s loss to CIA Bounce. He fouled out in 15 minutes of play and his numbers were dismal:  2 points and 0 rebounds. He has not helped himself here so far.  By the way, Andrew Wiggins had 21 points for CIA.  He is one of the four best players in camp.

Oh Boo!

The dysfunctional bunch known as Boo Williams is again winless. In their first game, Anthony “Cat” Barber and Al Freeman jawed hard at one another, and it took a while for Barber to let it go. Talent and no production makes college coaches pause.  Freeman and his game are still a bit of a wreck.  Note: the Duke staff has not watched a single game this squad has played. And wasn’t star forward Troy Williams supposed to have decided? Hmm.

Marcus Lee struggles as well

Marcus Lee is foul prone in a big way, and he once again finished the game on the bench as California Supreme lost again, and is now 0-3. Lee had 2 points and 5 boards; his offense is anemic. Yes he’s talented and long, but putting all the hype aside, he is a little overrated and I am not the only one who feels that way.

Justise Winslow

From my conversation with him, this really seems like a good kid. He has recently been offered by Calipari and Kentucky, and he spoke highly of them, but Duke is on his list and he also spoke well of Coach K and his recent U-17 camp experience with Team USA. His production here has been good; he went for 16 points and 8 rebounds in his team’s two point win this morning.

Yes, Theo!  You do have an offer!

Theo Pinson has had an offer for over eight months.  Odd how nobody knew, but the bottom line is he does now.  More may come out from this, not that it even matters at this point.  In the morning game he scored 23 points to lead CP3 to a 75-71 win over California Supreme.

Nichols Interview

Don’t miss Andrew’s interview with Austin Nichols.  The Duke coaches feel he will take all five of his visits before deciding.

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Checking In With Marcus Lee

6’9″ Marcus Lee, Photo by Andrew Slater

 

There are certain moments in life where, based upon your actions, your life changes. For 6’9″ Marcus Lee of Antioch, California, his performances with his California Supreme team at the EYBL in Minnesota potentially changed the course of his life. After the event, scholarship offers flooded in from programs across the country.  His brother, Bryan, a former basketball standout at Grand Canyon University, and a recruiter for Google, has been the primary filter for Marcus’s calls. One of the schools that immediately contacted Marcus following the EYBL event was Duke University.

Seven weeks later, Marcus is now scheduled to travel to Charlottesville, Virginia to participate in the NBPA Top 100 Camp. As the sixth-leading shot-blocker in the EYBL, Lee was instrumental in forging California Supreme’s 16-4 record, which helped the team qualify for next month’s Peach Jam in South Carolina.

Duke Recruit Marcus Lee, Photo by Andrew SlaterRecently, I spoke with Marcus about, among other things, that life-changing weekend in Minnesota, about speaking with Coach Mike Krzyzewski, as well as Bryan’s reaction to the newfound interest in his younger brother.

 

 

 

 

What was your initial reaction when offers started coming in from all around the country?

I was pretty surprised. I thought I was just sort of settling in and then…

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Did it change your life, to a degree?

Yeah, it did. Yeah, it changed everything. It changed it to the point where after school I was having a lot of phone calls coming in and I just don’t have any more free time. (laughs)

 Do you like it?

Yeah, I love it! I mean I sometimes get headaches, but it’s all worth it. It’s been great.

 

What are you trying to gain or learn from your visits?

How they do stuff around each campus..I really want to talk to people. I feel that I’ve got a lot of questions for people. 

 

What does your brother think about all of this fuss? I remember that he was, in some ways, your guiding light.

Yeah, yeah, he’s just trying to keep everything away from me… so far. 

Does he handle everything, for the most part?

Yeah, he handles pretty much everything. He tries to be supportive.

 

What was it like in the match-up with Jahlil Okafor? He’s another recruit that I’ve spoken to a lot.

I thought it was great. He’s really one of the toughest kids I’ve gone against. He’s a really big kid, very fundamentally sound. It was a lot of fun.

 

One of the schools that has shown interest in you so far is UCLA. What do you know about them?

I want to find out more about them. I know a little bit about them because they’re roughly in my area. I think I’d like to take a look around. I mean, I’ve always had a good relationship with them. 

 

When they offered you, was it pretty exciting?

My brother called me and he said that they’re going to call you to probably offer you and then I got a call and it was just amazing.

 

You’re sort of known for your shot-blocking. Out of curiosity, who are the hardest guys for you to try to defend?

 Probably one of the bigger or, like, stronger types. Like guarding all these top big men in the EYBL is like, man, I mean, they get the ball, and I get pounded. I try to block their shots and defend them, but a lot of them are tough.

 

Can you talk a little bit about San Diego State? (other reporter)

San Diego State is always in my ear. They’re always really, like, a nice program. I just would like to learn more about them, but they’re really nice though.

 

Do you think it would be hard to leave the West Coast?

I’m not sure. I don’t think so. 

Have you thought about starting to pare it down?

I think about it a little bit, but I really feel that I should just stay open right now. So far, I have no idea what I’d like to narrow it down to..maybe a little later I will.

 

How do you feel you and your team are playing right now? Do you feel, in some ways, that this is, for lack of a better phrase, the best Marcus Lee that we have seen?

Yeah, this is probably the best Marcus. (laughs)

 Sorry to force you into the third person. I didn’t want you to become a diva wide receiver or a boxer just yet..

(laughs) Yeah, in terms of the team, I think we try to separate ourselves by being a very family-like setting. Other teams, they seem to want to compete against themselves and other teams. We try to help each other out..that’s our whole goal in this.

That’s unusual.

Yeah, yeah. I’m sure you noticed that.

 

How is it playing in front of your family? Is it a different dynamic?

 It’s probably the hardest thing. 

 Oh, really, it’s actually harder?

 Oh, yeah, much, much harder. I feel like I have to meet much higher expectations when they’re here. 

 I remember that you mentioned during a prior interview with me that your brother was your role model in basketball, not necessarily a current pro or college basketball player. I know that he was a Division II All-American. 

 Yeah, when he came into college, he was more of a scorer. He tried to focus on that.

 Was he generally a different type of player than you?

 Yeah, he’s exactly the same. He would always try to do the little things to help the team win, things that might not show up in a box score. He got a lot of joy out of basketball. 

 Well, you seem to get a lot of joy out of playing basketball and life. What would you say is your favorite part about playing basketball? It seems like you like to run and block shots.

 Yeah, I love to block shots. They get so happy thinking that they’re going to lay it in and I come by and just… swat! I just love doing the little things. I love winning and just being part of a team.

When I was talking to Jahlil, he was amazed at your speed. He had never seen you play before. He was amazed at your speed going up and down the court for a fellow big guy. That was his take on you. What was it like when you received the Duke offer? What was your reaction?

Well, my brother put Coach K’s number in my phone. I wasn’t sure if it was a joke, but then I got out of school and I was going through my phone and I saw Coach K’s number coming up and I was, like, whoa, and then I was just sitting there and there was just a voicemail from Coach K and I, like, had to call him right back.

What did he say when you finally spoke to him? 

Oh, he was extremely excited. He had a whole bunch of enthusiasm in his voice. 

For those in the audience who haven’t gone through that experience, what did he say?

He was just, like, well, he told me that I was, like, an amazing player. He was just, like, he wanted to, like, work me out and get me better.

 

What did he appreciate about you most?

He liked that I was so happy out there on the court and my energy.

They like high energy guys.

Yeah, I think that’s what they liked about me most.

Thanks a lot, Marcus.

Oh, sure thing, man.

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Marcus Lee shares the latest since Duke offer

Marcus Lee - BDN Photo

It never seems to fail that when Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski makes an offer that other schools will soon follow and that is the case with Marcus Lee who has been swarmed by media.  BDN followed up with him after the Duke offer with this exclusive one on one [private] video chat.

More to come on BDN Premium – [/private]