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  1. #1

    Q&A with Lee, who is very happy at Kentucky and was before Sunday

    INDIANAPOLIS — In March, Marcus Lee had played 11 scoreless minutes in four games. He had one rebound, one blocked shot.

    Yet going into Sunday's Midwest Region final against Michigan, Kentucky coach John Calipari told his freshman to be ready because of the injury that sidelined Willie Cauley-Stein.

    "We talked about it for two days, what was going to happen. We made the game really simple for him, said, ‘You’re only going to do these three things, you don’t worry about anything else. Don’t give them the ball in these positions, give it to them here, and you go do what you do ,and the world will be talking about you after the game.’ And he was trending worldwide," Calipari said after Sunday's 75-72 win that put UK into the Final Four.

    Lee had four first-half follow dunks and finished the game with 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 15 minutes to give UK the boost it needed.

    Lee started four games early in the season and had 17 points in his collegiate debut. However, his playing time all but vanished in SEC play as Dakari Johnson, another freshman, moved into the starting lineup. It didn't help that he got sick in December and lost 15 pounds off his already thin frame.

    But Calipari said without Lee and Dominique Hawkins Sunday, UK would not have won.

    "There’s no one coached different. You’re held accountable just like a starter would be held accountable. You’re pushed and challenged and coached just like a starter would be. We try throughout the season to make sure we’re getting those kids minutes so by the end of the year if something happens they’re ready to go. So, I’m not surprised (with how they played)," Calipari said.

    "There are times in practice those are our best two players. But, it’s really hard to get yourself ready to play every game when you don’t play in six straight games. That’s really hard. that means you’re a good person. That means you’re mature, because you know the clutter in their ears is telling them they should be playing more, what are they doing, you’re better. They’re hearing it because it’s natural, yet they withstand all that."

    Calipari said Lee has to keep getting stronger, something the freshman understands. But he could play another pivotal role for UK Saturday against Wisconsin in the Final Four in Dallas.

    "He is an outstanding talent. He is one of the nicest kids on the team. I love having him," Calipari said.

    Before his breakout game and trending on Twitter Sunday, Lee made it clear that he knew his time would come at UK as it did on Sunday.

    Question: After scoring 17 points in 15 minutes in your first collegiate game, did you expect to play more than you did this year?

    Lee: “I was thinking so. I was really excited. I am still excited. Even with the good and bad you learn a lot, so I am just learning everything and that is great. It’s just part of the journey not playing. I have learned through a long line of basketball that are different roles for each player on the team. I just had to grasp a different role than usual.”

    Question: Are you still encouraged about your future at Kentucky?

    Lee: “I am totally encouraged about my future here. They push me every day just like they push everybody else. I know this is the greatest place for me to be.”

    Question: What do you need to do to get on the court more?

    Lee: “Just my total mentality. My mindset about everything has to come differently now and go on. We have been working on my strength and lifting constantly so I can get stronger. It’s different from way we lifted in high school. It was something new and something that I had to embrace.”

    Question: What is being in the NCAA Tournament like?

    Lee: “It is a little boy’s dream to be here. We are all kind of in awe. We are just excited.”

    Question: How have you stayed so enthusiastic all season?

    Lee: “I don’t have to force myself to do that or anything. My team encourages me every day. I know we all have to get better as a team. I am always ready and excited for basketball. I am excited just to be with my team just because I love them so much.”

    Question: Why are you usually the first guy jumping off the bench or running on the court to greet a teammate after a big play?

    Lee: “We all have different things. I am just a bubbly guy. I like being able to do that. That’s how I am.”

    Question: What would fans see in practice from you that they don’t see in games?

    Lee: “I am a real vocal person even if I try not to be in practice. No matter what, I am real vocal and I am always trying to make sure all the players are on the right page as we go through practice.”

    Question: Have you learned more from Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson or  Julius Randle? Or is it one of the coaches?

    Lee: “I have learned from everybody on the team. They have all got so many things to teach me, even when they didn’t mean to teach me. So I thought that was real great. I have really learned a lot from Jon Hood because his mind is just great. He has been here and knows everything. It’s great that he teaches the freshmen the rules of Kentucky basketball.”

    Question: When the incoming freshmen get on campus in June, what’s one mistake you would tell them not to make that maybe your class did?

    Lee: “I would wait to tell them that and not actually tell you that now. I would wait to tell them so they could wait and hear it.”

    Question: Would it maybe be not be so optimistic about the next season — or at least not admit it publicly?

    Lee: “I don’t know. I would just tell them to bear through whatever is happening because it is happening for a reason.”

    Question: Which assistant coach do you work the most with?

    Lee: “During practice Kenny (Payne) is my guy. He is yelling at everybody. He yells the most of the assistant coaches. You kind of get it from everybody throughout the practice, so that’s how it goes. Kenny always pushing me to work and not have lapses during practice. That’s one thing I had to work on to go all-out all the time instead of a minute’s time lapse and not going as hard. That is something I have learned a lot from him.”

    Question: What have you learned about Kentucky basketball in general that you didn’t know?

    Lee: “That we are really on a little pedestal where everybody see everything we do. I had to get used to that. I had to really bond and stick with my team no matter what because that is who is going to be with me.”

    Question: Was there a specific moment in public where you were surprised by UK fans?

    Lee: “I am still kind of shocked when we walk through malls and they all will know our names. That is kind of cool. But they knew that from the start.”

    Question: Did you scale back on using Twitter during the season?

    Lee: “You don’t have time to do that honestly. You kind of just lose track of your Twitter. It’s like you just kind of lay in bed and browse through it and reading things instead of like in high school when you had time just to tweet your whole life. Now you just do not have time to do all that.”

    Question: Do you get homesick at all this year?

    Lee: “You don’t really have time to get homesick. You are always with your brothers and going together and bonding. So I really didn’t get homesick. My family came as much as they wanted to. I am not sure one was at every game. But I love my mom come for a week and I loved every day of that with her.”

  2. #2

    Re: Q&A with Lee, who is very happy at Kentucky and was before Sunday

    Great stuff Larry!

  3. #3

    Re: Q&A with Lee, who is very happy at Kentucky and was before Sunday

    Seems like a really great kid. As a matter a fact they all seem like great kids.

  4. #4

    Re: Q&A with Lee, who is very happy at Kentucky and was before Sunday

    Great, great, great interview.

  5. #5

    Re: Q&A with Lee, who is very happy at Kentucky and was before Sunday

    Thanks Larry. It is really great to see these kids in a different light and to see that they are really good people.

  6. #6
    Unforgettable dan_bgblue's Avatar
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    Re: Q&A with Lee, who is very happy at Kentucky and was before Sunday

    Thanks very much for the great quotes. It read like he is an easy interview and would be a great guy to hang out with. One of these days he will get his chance to shine for more than just an emergency replacement. He is going to be fun to watch grow and one day destroy defenders and offenders alike in the paint. He has the IT factor about him
    seeya
    dan

    “I am more than just a Serious basketball fan. I am a life-long Addict. I was addicted from birth, in fact, because I was born in Kentucky.” Hunter S Thompson

  7. #7

    Re: Q&A with Lee, who is very happy at Kentucky and was before Sunday

    Killer stuff Larry. Have always liked Marcus' energy when he's on the bench, he's always out there cheering, and it's clear that's very much his personality.

    now go stuff that kid from UM and we can get him more twitter followers than Cal.
    Saigon. .... I'm still only in Saigon

  8. #8
    Comeback Cat
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    Re: Q&A with Lee, who is very happy at Kentucky and was before Sunday

    This summer is big for Willis and Lee, they could both play big roles next year.

  9. #9
    Fiddlin' Five
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    Re: Q&A with Lee, who is very happy at Kentucky and was before Sunday

    Larry, you always bring reality to us about "our" guys. He seems a bright young man and thankfully he is sticking around. I was worried he would leave with more bigs on the way and Dak more than likely back. Imagine going against Willie, Dak, JR, and Alex every day, no wonder he was ready Sunday.

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