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By SPENCER GLEASON
Daily News Sports Editor
Marcus Lee has made it official.
The Ketchikan High School senior signed on the dotted line of his letter of intent on Tuesday, and will play college basketball at the University of Alaska Fairbanks next season.
“Marcus has earned it,” Kayhi basketball coach Eric Stockhausen said. “UAF is getting a proven winner, a state champion, a three-time All-State kid. But a wonderful young man. They’re changing the culture, trying to do it with Alaska kids. And Marcus was their first recruit that they went after.”
Ever since Lee was a freshman, UAF has been looking at the Kings’ point guard. And they watched him grow into Kayhi’s third-highest leading scorer in school history.
Lee will graduate with 1,530 career points — third-most for the Kings, only behind Steve Ortiz (1,788) and John Brown (1,572).
But aside from the total number of points, UAF knew they wanted Lee from the get-go. And UAF assistant coach Jesse Brown reached out to Lee every chance he was allowed.
“NCAA has strict rules on when they can talk to you, and how they can talk to you,” Lee said. “So he’s been keeping up with me on that. On certain days when you can talk to recruits, he did. He’d shoot me a text when he could. And he’d (call me), and that just showed me how much care and how much trust he put into me. ... I liked that.”
A visit to the campus in December 2018 sealed the deal, and a phone call from UAF head coach Greg Sparling to Lee in January made it a reality.
“He straight up gave me an official scholarship on the phone, and told me how much (they’d give me),” Lee said. “I kind of knew I was going to go there. I already had it set in mind that I was going to go after my visit — it just felt like home when I was up there. And about two weeks later he gave me a phone call, and that officially set it.”
Lee is part of a recruiting class for the NCAA Division II program that includes a couple of 6’7” and 6’11” players.
“It’s a good recruiting class, and I’m just looking forward to that,” Lee said. “And that was one of the big (factors) — being able to play with good guys, a team that wants to win and good coaches, too.
“I’m just going to go in, and try to do the best I can,” he continued. “And make an impact as a freshman. It’s going to be a long process, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Away from the basketball court, Lee will most certainly be hitting the books at UAF for a different kind of court. He plans on majoring in criminal justice.
“I enjoy it a lot,” he said. “And when I was choosing a major, I said, ‘Why not? This is what I want to do. I love it in high school, so why not do it in college.’
“Politics is something that I fell into,” he continued. “Politics play a role in that. I always watch the news.”
In his government class at Kayhi during this school year, Lee has participated in mock trials and heard guest speakers talk about the career path.
“I took a big interest in that, and I kind of noticed it,” he said. “They were talking about their career paths. And that was super cool to me, and I fell in love with that.”
Not many have accomplished what Lee has in a Kayhi uniform. Aside from the points scored and assists tallied, Lee helped lead the Kings to their first state championship in 45 years. And that’s something he’ll cherish forever.
“This basketball season was amazing,” he said with a grin. “And I’m glad we came together and won a state championship for this community, especially since I grew up with these guys.
“It was super special, and I’m glad we could do it,” he continued. “Especially with all of the seniors on the team. And going out with a big moment for Ketchikan.”