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Keith Taylor: Decision day for Lee, Briscoe; Mitchell completes staff with veteran Dunn

Decision day has arrived for Kentucky’s Marcus Lee and Isaiah Briscoe and both players have made a decision regarding their future plans.

Lee and Briscoe had until midnight Wednesday to stay or withdraw from the NBA Draft and both decided to return to college, with Lee announcing his plans to transfer. Lee’s showing in the NBA Combine earlier this month in Chicago did him no favors while Briscoe’s outside shooting last season — 13.5 percent from the 3-point line — hurt his chances of taking the next step after just one season in Lexington.

 Decision day has arrived for Marcus Lee and Isaiah Briscoe (Bill Thiry Photo)

Decision day has arrived for Marcus Lee and Isaiah Briscoe (Bill Thiry Photo)

“With Isaiah, the whole thing comes back to just shooting the ball,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “Because they know the other skills that he has translates, 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.”

Calipari said Briscoe has the potential to become a better shooter and the solution to improving is simply “getting in the gym.”

“The greatest thing with shooting is that it is kind of like ball handling,” Calipari said.

Lee is the second player to leave the program in the past two months. Freshman Charles Matthews decided to be released from his scholarship after just one season with the Wildcats.

Draft update

Team placements have been drawn for next month’s NBA Draft and DraftExpress lists Jamal Murray as the No. 6 overall pick by the New Orleans Pelicans. Duke’s Brandon Ingram — not Ben Simmons — is projected as the overall No. 1 pick by the Philadelphia 76ers.

If Murray is chosen by the Pelicans, he would join former Kentucky standout and top pick Anthony Davis in New Orleans.

The website has Skal Labissiere going to the Sacramento Kings as the eighth pick, with the Indiana Pacers taking Tyler Ulis at No. 20 in the first round in its latest mock draft. If the prediction stands on draft day, Labisstere will join former Kentucky players Demarcus Cousins and Willie-Cauley Stein in Sacramento.

Mitchell’s staff complete

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell added the final piece to his coaching staff Tuesday, hiring Lin Dunn.

A veteran college and professional coach, Dunn guided the Indiana Fever to the 2012 WNBA Championship and has won more than 660 games in her career.

“I could not be more excited to get the chance to work every day with one of my greatest mentors and dearest friends in Lin Dunn,” Mitchell said in a release. “When you think about those that helped paved the way for women’s sports, Lin Dunn is one of those names that comes to your mind. She has helped me become the coach and person that I am today and I am forever grateful. With our staff now complete, it’s time for us to turn the page and take this program to new heights.”

Kentucky connection

Former Kentucky guard and assistant coach Dwane Casey has the Toronto Raptors on the brink of making a first-ever appearance in the NBA Finals.

Toronto is tied 2-2 with heavily-favored Cleveland and the series shifts back to Ohio for the next two games. The Cavaliers defeated the Raptors by a combined margin of 50 points in the first two games of the series, but Toronto stormed back to even the series.

If Toronto and Oklahoma City reach the finals, Casey and Billy Donovan, another former UK assistant and ex-Florida Gators coach, would face off against each other on the grand stage.

Oklahoma City leads its series with defending NBA champion Golden State, 3-1.

Hack qualifies for U.S. Open

Kentucky women’s golfer Anna Hack has qualified for the U.S. Open.

Hack, a freshman at Kentucky, fired a 4-over-par 69 to claim one of two spots in the St. Louis sectional Tuesday. She defeated Ember Schuldt on the third playoff hole at the Westwood Country Club.

“Playing in the U.S. Open is something you always dream of as a golfer and something I wanted to do this week,” Hack said. “To actually do it and see all the hard work pay off today is a moment I won’t forget. I want to thank Golda (Johansson Borst) and Brian (May) for all the time and effort they’ve put in with me to help my game mature and to push me to work harder. I can’t wait to get out to California to compete with some of the world’s best golfers and hope to use these next couple of months to continue getting better.”

The U.S. Open is set for July 7-10 at CordeValle in San Martin, California.

Keith Taylor is a senior sports writer for KyForward, where he primarily covers University of Kentucky sports. Reach him at keith.taylor@kyforward.com or @keithtaylor21 on Twitter

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