Marcus Lee is down to Cal and … Cal?

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Cal head coach Mike Montgomery has been killing it on the recruiting trail this summer.

He’s already earned commitments from a pair of talented shooting guards from California in five-star recruit Jabari Bird and four-star prospect Jordan Matthews. He’s also in the mix for a couple of other talented players from the state, one of whom — Aaron Gordon — may be the best athlete in the country.

But Gordon still has a long way to go in his recruitment.

Marcus Lee doesn’t.

Cal’s in his final two, and they’ll be facing off with … Cal?

Coach Cal, that is, as Kentucky is the other team still on Lee’s radar.

I saw Lee play at the Nike Global Challenge in DC. He was impressive. He stands 6-foot-9, and while he’s still a big slender, he can block shots, rebound the ball and showed off a nice touch around the basket. There’s a reason he’s considered a top 30 prospect, and we all know what Coach Cal does with the prospects he brings in.

But here’s the hang-up: Kyle Wiltjer was a top 30 prospect as well. He was overshadowed as a freshman on Kentucky, and while he may end up seeing a lot of time this season, if Kentucky brings in the kind of recruiting class in 2013 that everyone expects them to bring in, Wiltjer will be headed right back to the bench.

In addition to Lee, the Wildcats are heavily involved with, well, everyone at the top of the rankings: Jabari Parker, the Harrison twins, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and even Andrew Wiggins, who many expect to reclassify to 2013.

Lee will annually be on a team that contends for national titles at Kentucky. And who knows, he could end up a one-and-done prospect there. But Coach Cal recruits on an entirely different level from the rest of the country. Top 30 prospects are bench-warmers that get recruited over in Lexington.

It’s a risk that Lee needs to be cognizant of.

(Photo credit: Nike)

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.