The UK boss said Wednesday during a year-end press conference at Memorial Coliseum that senior center/forward Marcus Lee and sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe are still weighing their options with the NBA Draft approaching.
Lee is participating in the NBA combine, while Briscoe has worked out for some individual organizations. They have until May 25 to remove their names from the draft if they wish to return to the Wildcats.
“I would say Marcus is at the combine," Calipari said. "Marcus is a little different. Marcus really wants to do this, and my guess is that he’ll keep his name in the draft because this is what he wants to do. And I just told him to go up there and do your thing and show the athletic player that you are."
“With Isaiah, the whole thing comes back to just shooting the ball because they know the other skills that he has translate (to the NBA), including physically and defensively and rebounding. It all translates, so he’s just got to be a more consistent shooter. And if you’re watching the NBA, if you choose to do that, what you’re finding out is that now there is a premium on shooting. And if you’re someone that’s going to have the basketball, you’ve got to be able to shoot... So you’re understanding now that it’s important and they’ll evaluate him, first of all, that way and then they go from there. But he’s got all the other skills.”
Briscoe averaged 9.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a freshman. The New Jersey native was also one of the Cats' top defenders thanks in part to his physical, 6-foot-3, 212-pound frame. But he shot only 44 percent from the field, 14 percent (5 for 37) from the 3-point arc and a shockingly-low 46 percent (57 of 124) at the free throw line.
Calipari hinted that he believes Briscoe will be back for another year with UK.
“He and I haven’t talked probably in two or three days," Calipari said. "I try to give him space. Go work out for these teams and let them tell you and talk to them and I’m here for them. My whole thing is, you gotta get better. You’re coming back to get better.”
Having players leave early for the NBA is nothing new for the Cats under Calipari, but it holds even more significance this year as one of the nation's top-rated prospects -- No. 1 center Marques Bolden -- has yet to choose between UK and Duke. The Cats and Blue Devils are currently rated No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in Scout's national team recruiting rankings.
Duke has an open scholarship available for Bolden, but UK does not unless either Lee or Briscoe stay in the draft, leading some analysts to believe that Bolden may be leaning toward the Cats.
Kentucky underclassmen Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere have already declared for the draft and expressed their intent to sign with agents.