In or Out? Our Prediction on Briscoe, Lee, and Bolden
The Cats roster is close to being finalized for the 2016-17 season but there are still several question marks as of today. Marques Bolden will announce his college choice on Thursday May 19th. Marcus Lee and Isaiah Briscoe have until May 25th to withdraw or stay in the NBA draft. Here is our prediction on each player and what they will ultimately decide.
Marcus Lee– Today news broke that he cancelled some workouts with NBA teams which leaves some fans thinking he will return for his senior season. He received a surprising invite to the NBA combine despite not being projected as a top 100 prospect. The reality for Lee is that his draft stock is as good as it will ever be and to put it bluntly the truth is that he will likely go undrafted in this draft or the next one. That does not mean that he does not have a professional basketball career in his future. As an undrafted free agent he could be signed by any NBDL team. In the developmental league he could work solely on basketball and try to earn a spot on an NBA roster in the future. There is also the option of playing basketball overseas where they pay very good money to players that are a notch below the NBA. Perhaps Marcus is simply ready to move on to his professional career in whatever form or fashion that it works out. All signs point to him staying in the draft, including comments from himself and coach Cal. Obviously there is a chance that he could have a change of heart but I will be extremely shocked if Marcus Lee is playing for Kentucky next season. His departure will open up a scholarship for Marques Bolden if he picks the Cats.
Isaiah Briscoe– While he did not get invited to the NBA draft combine he has had the chance to workout for several NBA teams. That has allowed him to gather valuable feedback about his draft stock and what he needs to do to improve it. Unlike Lee there is a strong opportunity for Briscoe to improve his stock by returning to Kentucky. He would start along side De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk and once again form one of the best back courts in the nation. He would also have a larger role in terms of handling the point guard responsibilities on a regular basis. Fox may be the main point guard but he will not have the ball in his hands or be on the floor as much as Tyler Ulis was last season. That will give Briscoe an opportunity to showcase his point guard skills. He also needs to show that he can make jump shots at a respectable rate as well as become a better free throw shooter. Those are realistic things that could help push his stock back up into the first round of the NBA draft next year. Cal hinted last week that he expects Briscoe to return and most around the program seem to expect the same. In my opinion Briscoe is more important to next years team than getting Marques Bolden. He would give the Cats depth at the guard spot and a veteran to help the team through the early growing pains of the season. I fully expect Briscoe to be back at Kentucky next season.
Marques Bolden– The waiting game for Bolden has seemed to drag out a bit longer than expected but much of that may have been out of his hands. Much has been rumored about his recruitment but most of it has been pure speculation and even made up stuff. Duke and Kentucky facing off for a top recruit this late in the game has upped the stakes a bit for fans which may have caused the rumor mill to spin even more out of control than normal. The truth is that it is hard for a player to announce a commitment to a school that has no open scholarships. Sometimes it is simply a timing issue of needing to wait to make an announcement until the team is ready for it. Either way I expect Bolden to commit to the Wildcats on Thursday. There is never a sure thing when it comes to recruiting but I think UK makes the most sense for him. He would solidify the Cats as the best recruiting class in 2016. He would also give UK their best low post scoring threat.
Next season is a long way away but fans will know the official roster in just a matter of days. At that point they can join John Calipari in anticipation for next season.