Boy, John Calipari is on some kind of hot streak. Shooting natural sevens, hitting natural blackjacks, pulling the full house on the river, getting those little cherries to line up straight...et cetera and so forth.
For the third time in as many weeks, the Kentucky Wildcats were the beneficiary of a major recruiting decision. This time, it was 2013 center from Antioch (Cal.) Deer Valley. Lee, who took an official visit to Kentucky this past weekend for Big Blue Madness, chose the Wildcats over his hometown school, the California Golden Bears.
At Kentucky, Calipari has had a lot of success landing West Coast superstars. The 2010 class featured Portland native Terrence Jones (though not without a bit of controversy), followed by fellow Portlandian Kyle Wiltjer in 2011. In addition, Calipari is actively recruiting Aaron Gordon, from San Jose (Cal.) Archbishop Mitty, in the 2013 class.
In the early stages of his recruitment, Lee looked like a difficult hoopster to pluck out of the West Coast. He had proximity ties to Cal and another in-state program, the UCLA Bruins. Further, he spent his summers working out in Houston, and had interest in the major Texas programs: the Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies, and Baylor Bears. Earlier on in his recruitment, blue blood programs like the Indiana Hoosiers and Duke Blue Devils also offered.
The Wildcats came on relatively late in his recruitment. Lee didn't even receive an official offer until he hosted Calipari and staff for an in-home visit on September 16. However, soon after that offer, Lee cut his list to three: Kentucky, Cal, and UK's in-state rival, the Louisville Cardinals. The fightin' Pitinos got the axe soon after, and it became a classic recruiting battle: "stay home and star" vs. "play for the best."
Lee's visit to Big Blue Madness--his first to Lexington--did wonders for Kentucky in regards to Lee's recruitment. Lee was wowed by the atmosphere, and even tweeted a picture of him alongside the four currently committed UK recruits. In the end, Lee simply decided he wanted to play with the best players in the biggest atmosphere, even if it meant catching a cross-country flight to suit up for his college of choice. His pre-existing relationship with the Harrison twins also helped, as he had played with them before in summer workouts.
Lee joins power forward, small forward James Young, shooting guard Aaron Harrison, and point guard Andrew Harrison as committed members of the 2013 class. Lee will likely man the 5 at Kentucky, though he is more of a natural power forward, his probable NBA position. Lee is a lean, explosive athlete that needs to add bulk, but should be an immediate contributor as a shotblocker and finisher around the rim.
Those five players alone is certainly a recruiting class that could start and compete for the SEC Championship. Of course, Calipari is not done. The Wildcats are still looking to add another forward, and are heavily recruiting three right now in Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, and Tyler Roberson. Kentucky is also looking at center Kennedy Meeks, who could form a "twin towers" lineup with Lee. And of course, the Wildcats are still holding out hope that Andrew Wiggins will reclassify to 2013 and pick Kentucky, putting the recruiting class on a superstar level on par with The Avengers, Velvet Revolver, or the cast of Ocean's 11.