Cal or Calipari?

Four-star California center/forward Marcus Lee is down to two schools in his recruitment. In the end, will it be Cal or Calipari who wins out?

Entering the summer, Marcus Lee had nearly 40 college programs pursuing him and the family's phones barely got a break between rings.

Now on the cusp of October, the four-star California big man has narrowed his list to two schools. The decision should be much easier, right?

Wrong.

The reason?

Kentucky came calling.

"It's been a little bit of a circus," said Lee's brother, Bryan, who has helped him navigate the recruiting process. "He went from being lightly recruited to being recruited pretty heavily and now down to just a couple of schools. He has liked California for a long time, but when Kentucky won the championship and started showing interest this summer, it really made the decision that much harder."

So it's coming down to Cal or Calipari for Lee (6-9, 220) who is rated the No. 2 center and No. 38 prospect overall in the Class of 2013 by Scout. Louisville had also been in the mix, but the Cardinals recently picked up another frontcourt player and no longer has space for Lee.

Lee plans to make an official visit to Lexington for Big Blue Madness on Oct. 12. It will be his first trip to UK and only the second time in the Bluegrass State. He took an official visit to Louisville two weeks ago.

Asked why his brother was drawn to the Wildcats, Bryan Lee said: "I think it's mainly their playing style and success that they've had recently. It's great that they're coming off a championship, and the way they've developed a guy like Anthony Davis, who is long and athletic and likes to run the floor and block shots like Marcus does, is really appealing to him. Their style of play really fits him well."

That message was conveyed when the UK staff traveled to Antioch, Calif., earlier this month to meet with Lee.

"They love all of those things that are similar to Anthony Davis, physically, but they also love how smart he is and how he's a great teammate," the elder Lee said. "He's a really good help defender and he's selfless on the offensive side of the court. He doesn't care how many times he gets to shoot the ball. He wants the best shooter on the team taking the shot whenever possible. All of the other great players they're recruiting want to play with him. He's that type of teammate."

The fan support and tradition at UK are also strong draws for Lee.

"The pride in their school, he loves that," Bryan Lee said. "They have incredible school spirit and support from their fans. He just loves how big basketball is there. California is a little different. There's so much stuff to do, everybody's into so many different things. You don't get the emphasis on college sports like you have with basketball at Kentucky or football in Texas.

"The arena will be sold out every night. It's just a different environment than he would experience at Cal."

Asked what some of the advantages Cal may have, the elder Lee said: "Obviously, he can be at home. There's a comfort level there. It's a great situation with family support. He has two really good options right now, and it's going to be a difficult decision. He's been going back and forth on it. We just want him to be happy and be able to pursue his dream."

Scout national basketball analyst Evan Daniels says Lee would be a great addition to either program's 2013 class.

"Lee is a tremendous athlete," he said. "At 6-9, he runs the floor well, contests shots, and is effective in the paint."


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