Lee, the No. 28 prospect, chose Kentucky over California and joins twins Andrew (No. 2 overall recruit in the ESPN 100) and Aaron Harrison and guard James Young (No. 5).
Kentucky’s recruiting currently is ranked No. 1 for 2013 and is shaping up as one of the best of all time.
Lee, who attends Deer Valley High School in Antioch, Calif., grew up in northern California watching the Golden Bears and was familiar with the California program.
But Lee said his decision ultimately came down to his comfort level with Kentucky’s coaches and players and how he fits into the future of the Wildcats’ program. He also is looking forward to playing for coach John Calipari.
“Everyone made me feel like I was part of their family,” Lee said. “Being far away from home, that was important. The coaches treated me like I was their son.”
The decision came less than a week after Lee attended Kentucky’s Midnight Madness celebration, Big Blue Madness.
“It was crazy and the atmosphere was electric,” Lee said.
Style of play also was a big factor in Lee’s thought process. Kentucky has been known for its up-tempo style created by its defense, and the Wildcats led the nation last season in defensive field goal percentage at 37.4 and blocked shots at 8.6 per game.
As a junior, Lee averaged 13.9 points, 13.9 rebounds and 9.1 blocks per game.
“Kentucky is a defensive-minded team, and that’s what I do best,” the 6-foot-9, 200-pound Lee said. “I am not the biggest or strongest guy in the world, so the faster pace of the game fits me.”
Lee credits playing middle blocker for his high school volleyball team as one of the reasons he’s such a good shot-blocker.
“Being on the front line and always near the net, it has really help me with my jumping and timing of blocking shots,” he said.
Lee is expected to provide the Wildcats a defensive presence in the paint to protect the rim, which in turn should allow Kentucky’s perimeter defenders to be more aggressive. That interior defensive presence has been a hallmark of Calipari’s Wildcats, as Lee will follow in the footsteps of DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Willie Cauley-Stein and Nerlens Noel.
Lee becomes an extremely important piece for the Wildcats as they are assembling a historic collection of talent in the 2013 class.
And Calipari might not be done yet, as Kentucky still has the full-court press on for a pair of top-10 uncommitted power forwards — No. 3 overall recruit Julius Randle of Dallas and No. 6 prospect Aaron Gordon of San Jose, Calif.