"You think you play high level AAU, but once you get to the EYBL it's a totally different level and there are so many watching you," Marcus Lee said. "My first game I was terrified – I saw so many huge guys when I walked in and I was like, ‘Man, this is big time.'
But he adapted quickly and became one of the most talked about class of 2013 prospects in the month of April.
"I never knew I was going to be this good," Lee said. "I just kept working and when I got here I was like ‘Oh, this isn't that hard.' I shouldn't be surprised because my brother was always saying I was going to blow up and I didn't understand him until I got here (to the EYBL).
"And then I got all these calls. It's been crazy."
Calls from high-major coaches have been flooding the Lee household because the now-6-9 athletic big man from Antioch (Calif.) Deer Valley has shown a defensive mindset and a commitment to playing in the post.
"Last year I was a roamer, did what my coach told me to do, and this year I made a big impact, being a big man, getting boards," Lee explained. "I had the mindset of being a guard and I realized not a lot of big men want to be big men anymore, so I decided I'm going to be different and be a big man."
That begins on defense, where his volleyball training is apparent in his explosiveness off the floor, making him a game-changing shotblocker.
"Defensive is what starts offense," said Lee, who doesn't shy from contact, even when more physically-advanced opponents get the best of him. "I start my team off with defense first."
Scouts have noticed, and Lee's spot in national rankings is expected to rise significantly.
"Lee has grown two inches since September and his body is maturing," Scout.com's Evan Daniels wrote from Hampton. "Athletically he's impressive. He gets off the floor quickly, uses his length in the paint to swat shots and will run the floor to get easy buckets around the basket. Going forward he'll need to develop a go-to move, but he's full of talent and raw ability."
Despite being nine years apart in age, Marcus and Bryan Lee are very close, so much so that Marcus considers him his best friend. Bryan knows the game well, and has been exposed to the recruiting process through his own career and his peers.
Thus, Bryan is handling Marcus's recruitment.
"He tries to take as much as he can off me so I can just be a kid," Marcus Lee said.
That has enabled Marcus to spend less time worrying about all the interested schools. He's not getting buried in the details of the recruiting process.
Ask him which schools have offered and he responds: "A lot – I have no idea." Though he was able to list some of the schools that called this past week.
"Kansas, Duke (which offered) – that was probably the biggest one, Indiana, I hear North Carolina is calling, NC State called yesterday."
That marked the first call from the Tar Heel staff.
"My brother has talked to them," Lee said of UNC. "I haven't talked to them yet because all calls go through my brother."
North Carolina has already secured a 2013 commitment from a Top 10 post player in Isaiah Hicks, but is undoubtedly in need of another to join the class. The coaching staff followed up that call to his brother last week by watching Lee in Hampton. Roy Williams was in attendance to see Lee record 16 points and 4 blocks, leading his California Elite team to in a win over BABC on Saturday morning.
Lee admits to being a Tar Heel fan growing up, explaining that he watched a lot of North Carolina's games, and was definitively on the UNC side of the UNC-Duke rivalry. In light of Duke's scholarship offer and a conversation with Blue Devil coach Mike Krzyzewski last week, he's backing off stated allegiances.
With nearly 30 offers and many more schools showing interest, this recruitment appears to have a ways to go. Despite his familiarity with West Coast schools, Lee said he's not inclined to stay close to home, though some areas of the country are going to get ruled out because of his preferred climate.
"Moving doesn't really matter to me, as long as where I live feels like home," he said. "But I can't really do cold – I'm not a cold type of guy."
The next step in his recruitment will be to make more campus visits, but no dates or details have been set.
"I really want to visit Texas and a couple other schools. I've visited most of the schools around me. I don't really know what I'm going to do next.
"I'm not in a rush, I'm taking my time. Whenever I finally know, I'll know."