By LARRY VAUGHT
Maybe Marcus Lee is just trying to establish his value to NBA teams. Maybe he’s just trying to build confidence in himself.
Whatever it is, Lee was having a John Calipari-like moment at swag at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago Thursday.
“I don’t think we’d lose at all next season if I come back,” Lee told media members at the draft combine.
Say what? Have I missed something here?
Lee is still deciding whether to keep his name in the NBA draft — he said Thursday he was “87 percent sure” he would remain in the draft. Kentucky coach John Calipari said Wednesday he didn’t expect Lee back either.
Lee has been a good player at UK. He was part of two Final Four teams but certainly has never been a dominant player. Maybe he just meant with the other players UK will have, his return would provide depth for an unbeaten team.
ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla calls Lee an “energy guy” that might get drafted in the second round at best.
“I know he’s a high-character guy. If he runs hard, plays hard, plays within his ability to defend and rebound and dunk, offensive rebound put-backs, run to the rim on pick-and-rolls, you know, he’s got a chance, he really does,” Fraschilla said. “Because I saw him in practice in October, and to me, he’s a big man project who somebody is going to likely draft in the second round, and if he’s not drafted, you’ll see him in Las Vegas running up-and-down the court in the NBA Summer League where he can prove himself.”
Fraschilla emphasized on an ESPN teleconference call that he likes Lee as a project.
“If a team drafts him in the second round or they sign him, I could see him being part of an NBA veteran camp, being signed to play in the D-League and just starting his career there, if he doesn’t want to go to Europe. But he’s a big man who runs the floor, plays with a good motor. He’s got a chance,” Fraschilla said. “He’s not skilled but he’s active and he’s got a good motor. He’s a 50/50 guy. It’s a 50/50 proposition that he’ll be on an NBA roster.”
And 50-50 is lot better than what I see UK’s chances of going unbeaten next season — with or without Lee.