OVERVIEW As of October 2011 Deer Valley's High's Marcus Lee was a relatively unknown 3-star Power Forward on the fringe of the recruiting scene. Lee's Northern California campus sits in the city of Antioch ('10 pop. 102,000) and at the onset of the '11-'12 Wolverines' season would have barely registered a blip on the radar for most basketball scouts. Eight months later, and Lee rates a 4-star via Rivals.com, has skyrocketed to the #33 spot in the Class of '13 and is among the most sought after big men in the country. Lee holds offers from much of the West coast, Duke, Kansas and recently spoke with representatives of the University of Kentucky. The "potential" label appears near Lee's name as much if not more than that of any player in his Class. An exceptional overall athlete, Lee also carries clout on the HS Volleyball circuit. The 6'10 Middle Blocker registered 306 Kills ('11-'12) for the 37-4 Deer Valley team. Similar to Long Beach Poly's 4-star Power forward (and previously profiled) Jordan Bell, '10 Center Angelo Chol, and '12 Power forward Skylar Spencer, Lee's path to national prominence was paved by his efforts as a defensive stopper. Bell's name will again appear in this piece as similarities between the two abound.
For those not familiar with your game, what does Marcus Lee bring to the court?
Energy. Teamwork. Versatility. Defense. Communication. I feel like I can impact the game in so many ways. Offensively I'm getting more consistent. But I want to be able to bring what the team needs. If they need me to score I'll score. If they nee me to hold down the paint I can do that. I can take charges and be a great help defender. I try to be the best teammate possible.
Which area(s) of your game are you looking to improve, and why?
Everything. I never want to stop improving. I am working on being more aggressive offensively and demanding the ball but that will come. I need to get stronger for college. But I am working on everything.
If a college basketball program you're interested in tells you that you may not Start until your Sophomore season, would you remain interested in that school?
Definitely. The jump from high school to college is huge. I want to go to a school where I know the coach is going to put our team in the best position to win. It did wonders for Thomas Robinson to compete against the twins in practice at Kansas. I would like to play as a freshman but it won't be a determining factor.
STRENGTHS Marcus Lee is a prodigious shot blocker. The 9.1 blocks per game in '11-'12 ranked 3rd in the nation (Maxpreps) and 1st among non-Seniors. Lee is a quick leaper and possesses well above average length. He is often in a position to block or alter shots without leaping. As is the case with most high-level shot blockers, Lee's second jump is quick and consistently well-timed. His defensive prowess goes beyond the swat. His hands are active in passing lanes, and he registered 1.3 steals per game last season. The combination of busy hands and effective first and second bounce contribute to Lee's rep as a next level rebounder. The 13.9 rebounds per game in '11-'12 led to many of the putback attempts which serve a crucial role in Lee's developing offensive game. Athleticism and above average foot speed establish the skilled Power forward as a monster in transition and a tough defend for similar sized opponents. Much of his current offensive production comes via second chances and dunks. Next level bounce, length and timing, afford Lee the opportunity to dominate the above the rim game. Although he continues to become more comfortable in his frame, ( currently 6'10, 6'4 just two years ago) it is clear some need for acclimation remains. Oft lost in the block and rebound shuffle is the above average ability to pass the ball Lee displays. It appears he possesses advanced court vision and a willingness to distribute (2.2 assists per game '11-'12). Most alarming is the scenario in which Lee's '11-'12 season of 13.9 points, 13.9 rebounds, 9.1 blocks, and 2.2 assists, marks the beginning of his development, as opposed to its final product.
AREAS OF OPPORTUNITY Enter the aforementioned Jordan Bell. As is the case with Bell, Lee struggles from the free throw line. Of the 178 free throws he attempted in his Junior campaign, Lee was successful on just 84 (49%). Last season's results are slightly better than previous efforts ('10-'11 40%, '09-'10 47%), but fell far short of passable. There's no expectation of Lee living in the 80% range, but there's little reason to expect less than 65%. High level D1 games end far too close in score for free throw improvement not to serve as an off-season priority. Lee does make it to the line at a nice rate (5.5 FTA per game), but also commits his share of fouls (3.3 PF per game). He fouled out of 3 contests in '11-'12 and logged 4 fouls in another 12 games. Similar to Norvel Pelle, Lee tends to tomahawk on block attempts and the exaggerated follow-through can lead to foul-generating contact. D1 refs will call a tighter game and Lee will need to address this tendency or foul trouble will consistently drain his minutes. On the offensive side there is plenty of room to improve/develop in the low post and at mid-range. 2-3 finishing moves and consistent range out to 12-13 feet would force defenders to honor Lee's ability if and when he steps away from the lane. At 6'10 and just 210lbs, Lee will also need to address his strength/bulk. Anything shy of 230lbs at the D1 level and he may struggle holding and/or getting to the block against most 4's and 5's.
PROJECTION Without further development, Marcus Lee can walk onto any D1 court and impact on the defensive side. He possesses the bounce, athleticism, and timing to rank among the nation's elite shot-blocker. The same attributes would also allow for a fair amount of rebounding production, although mitigated without further strength/weight gain. Should the '11-'12 showing serve as his talent ceiling I project 9-11 points, 7-9 rebounds, and 3-4 blocks a game at the NCAA high major level. My belief, however, is last season was merely a prelude to the still evolving game of the hyper-gifted Power forward. Should Lee add 20-25lbs in muscle, work his FT north of 60%, and develop a serviceable low post and mid-range game, he will prove a force at the collegiate level. I project Marcus Lee in the 13-15 point, 10-12 rebound, and 4.5-5.5 block range, and in early consideration for All-Conference Defensive recognition. I don't know that Lee will ever serve as an offensive catalyst, but he will keep possessions alive, will hammer the offensive boards, and should dominate above the rim. As he wraps his Deer Valley career I fully expect Lee to compete for California State Player of the year and find it no stretch in projecting 16-18 points, 13-15 rebounds, and 7-8 blocks per game. A 5th star via Rivals should be in the offing and his overall ranking figures to land with the top 20 (currently #33).
Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Boise State, Boston College, California, Colorado, Duke, Eastern Washington, Fresno State, Kansas, Kansas State, Nevada, NC State, Northwestern, Pacific, Saint Mary's, San Diego State, San Francisco, San Jose State, Santa Clara, Texas A&M, UC Irvine, UCSB, UCLA, USC, UTEP, VCU, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington State
Top 10 prospect Marcus Lee considering 7 schools- California, UCLA, Indiana, Duke, Louisville, Kentucky and Kansas.
— Jerry Meyer (@jerrymeyer247) August 8, 2012