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Marcus Lee withdraws from draft, plans to transfer from UK; Briscoe will return for second season

Kentucky men’s basketball junior forward Marcus Lee will remove his name from the NBA Draft but plans to transfer to complete his collegiate eligibility at another school.

Upon completing his paperwork to withdraw from the draft, Lee will be granted a full release with no restrictions.

“Marcus Lee informed us today that he is pulling his name out of the draft but has decided he is going to transfer to a school out west to be closer to his family,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “We talked it through together and discussed the team next season, which he said had no bearing on his decision. I also told him he was a semester away from graduating. With that said, he was still adamant that, after the combine experience, a year off and regrouping would be the best thing. As always I support my players and their decisions.”

 Isaiah Briscoe plans to return to UK next season (Bill Thiry Photo)

Isaiah Briscoe plans to return to UK next season (Bill Thiry Photo)

Lee enjoyed the best season of his Kentucky career during his junior campaign where he boasted career highs in points per game (6.4), rebounds per game (6.0), total blocks (59) and total assists (11). He shot a team-best 68.0 percent from the floor, the best single-season field-goal percentage in school history with a minimum of 150 attempts. His 216 total rebounds were the most on the team, and he led the team in blocked shots in a team-high 18 games.

“I want to thank the University of Kentucky, the basketball staff and the Big Blue Nation for supporting me over the years,” Lee said. “I’m sorry it took me so long to come to this decision, but I’m trying to do what’s right for me and my family. I’ll always think fondly of my time at Kentucky.”

Lee ranks 20th all-time with 100 career blocked shots. He averaged 3.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shots in 100 career games at Kentucky.

A two-time Southeastern Conference Community Service Team member, Lee recently concluded participation in the 2016 NCAA Leadership Forum where he was the SEC’s male representative at the weekend-long conference.

While Lee announced his plans to leave, Isaiah Briscoe plans to return to UK next season after going through the process of declaring for the draft. Utilizing new NCAA rules that allow players to “test the waters,” Briscoe entered the NBA Draft without hiring an agent to protect his NCAA eligibility with the option of returning to school.

Players had until 10 days after the conclusion of the combine to make a final decision based on the new rule between the NCAA and NBA as long as they didn’t hire an agent. Briscoe informed UK of his intention to come back to school and will join Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins, Isaac Humphries, Mychal Mulder and Tai Wynyard as 2016-17 scholarship returners.

“I really grew from this experience and I appreciate the opportunity to be evaluated by these NBA teams,” Briscoe said. “I also want to thank the coaching staff and the fans for their support during this time. The NBA is my ultimate goal, so I’m returning to build on last year. There’s no better place to grow as a player or to win a championship, and I want to do both.”

Briscoe will return as the leading scorer and rebounder to form a nucleus alongside the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class (according to Rivals and ESPN), which features Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox, Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Malik Monk. With Briscoe coming back to school, UK will return 24.2 percent of its scoring and 30.0 percent of its rebounding from last season.

“After finishing up academically, Isaiah Briscoe used the new rules to the fullest by working out for eight different teams to get a true barometer on where he stands at this point in his career,” Calipari said. “I can tell you all the teams were impressed with him physically, defensively, his rebounding ability, his strength, his ball-handling ability and his basketball IQ. He shot the ball well at the NBA workouts but will look to continue to improve that to take the next step in his career.

“With that said, he’s pulling his name out of the draft and returning to Kentucky as the leading scorer and rebounder. Without his impact and competitive spirit, last year’s team would not have been nearly as successful. I fully expect him to come back and be a leader on and off the court for this young team. I’m excited to have him back.”

Briscoe transformed into an elite defender during his freshman season and one of the best-rebounding guards in the country. He averaged 5.3 boards per game in 2015-16 and scored in double figures in 18 games. The Newark, N.J., native posted 9.6 points and 3.1 assists per game.

Among Briscoe’s highlights included a double-double (11 points and 12 rebounds) in his season debut and a double-double (13 points and 11 rebounds) in the NCAA Tournament win over Stony Brook. Three times this past season he posted at least 10 points, at least five rebounds and at least five assists in a game, and four times he scored 15 or more points, including a career-high 20 at UCLA.

Briscoe ranked ninth in the SEC in minutes per game at 32.2 and was also among the league leaders with a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s among the top 10 performers in the Calipari era in total assists, assist-to-turnover ratio and assists per game after one season.

From UK Athletics

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