Contrary to popular belief, Marcus Lee did not leave the Kentucky Wildcats primarily because of playing time, being a featured player, or simply finding a school that may offer him a better path to the pros.
All of that was hard to come by for Lee at UK, where five-star player after five-star player has come to Lexington during Lee's tenure and kept him on the bench for much of it. Even when Lee got one the floor, he was rarely someone that the offense ran plays for or allowed, in his brother's words, to show his true offensive repertoire.
But ironically, Lee left UK because of something John Calipari preaches about his program: La familia.
"It had nothing to do with (UK) and basketball," Lee told the Herald-Leader. "I absolutely loved Kentucky and everybody at Kentucky. I still talk to them on a daily basis.
"My family just needed me at home, and I needed them."
Family has always been one of the biggest themes of Calipari and his programs, whether it's UMass, Memphis or Kentucky. While he wants his program to be one big happy family, sometimes a player's true family is ultimately what they need most.
"They (Lee's family) don’t know what’s going on in my head, and I don’t know what’s happening in their lives. … I come from a family, we always keep in touch and know what’s going on in each other’s lives," Lee said. "I didn’t like that (separation). I was missing things."
I never fault any high school recruit or college transfer for passing on a big program like UK in order to stay closer to home and be with his family. Whether it's Malik Newman spurning UK to stay home and play at Mississippi State (though that didn't exactly work well), Brandon Ingram doing the same with Duke (that actually worked out pretty well), or a guy like Lee leaving to go back to his roots, which is California and the Cal Bears in this instance.
Family should always be one of the biggest factors into where a guy like Lee enjoys his college hoops career. Now, Lee will say goodbye to his UK family and return to his first family back in California.