In the grand scheme of a recruitment, midnight madness visits probably aren’t all that important.
Recent years will show you that some madness guests ultimately commit to that school, while others go elsewhere. There are few cases of top recruits who say a madness visit tipped their decision.
For one of this year’s Big Blue Madness guests, things will be a little different.
Marcus Lee will be the only uncommitted senior in Rupp Arena on Friday night, and this weekend will likely be his only experience in Lexington before he makes a college decision.
“I think the visit is a big deal,” Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “He’s in the process of deciding between California and Kentucky and trying to decide if he wants to go away for college or stay home for college. So this visit is huge for Kentucky in their pursuit for Marcus Lee.”
That’s the decision for Lee: Stay with what you know and become a homestate star for the Bears. Or head East to Kentucky and join what will probably be the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.
Lee is already familiar with Cal and its coaching staff, led by Mike Montgomery. He’s met with the Bears several times, including multiple visits since the contact period began last month. But John Calipari has also made sure Lee knows he’s a priority for the Cats. Calipari has flown to California at least twice in the last few weeks to see the 6-foot-9 forward.
The attention is justified. Lee is ranked by 24/7 Sports analyst Jerry Meyer as the No. 9 overall player in the class of 2013. He’s also highly regarded by Rivals (15th), ESPN (28th) and Scout (38th).
Daniels said Lee could find a key role as a freshman on any team in the country.
“From a talent standpoint, he has tremendous upside,” he said. “He’s really improved over the past year and a half. He’s a very good run-and-jump athlete. He runs the floor extremely well. He contests shots. He’s a willing rebounder.
“He’s still going to have to develop his post moves and fine-tune some things on the offensive end, but he’s loaded with talent.”
Daniels added that securing a commitment from Lee would also be a crucial insurance policy should the Cats miss out on Julius Randle, the top-rated forward still available on UK’s recruiting board.
Randle used his first official visit on a trip to Lexington and has constantly praised UK and Calipari. Many considered Kentucky the favorite for Randle in the immediate aftermath of his visit last month, but there’s been some cooling on that prediction in some circles.
Daniels is in the camp with those who think other schools have picked up ground on Kentucky. The analyst tweeted Thursday that he liked Texas and Florida as frontrunners for the top-5 recruit.
“I think this is a big deal in case they were to miss out on Julius Randle, who they have some serious competition for,” he told the Herald-Leader a day before that tweet.
Whatever Randle does, it will come after Lee makes his announcement.
The Antioch, Calif., native is expected to choose between the Bears and the Wildcats within a couple of weeks of his Big Blue Madness visit.