ANTIOCH -- Marcus Lee expressed relief after making his commitment to play basketball at the University of Kentucky official on Wednesday morning.

The 6-foot-9 power forward from Deer Valley High signed his letter of intent on the first day of the early signing period. He's set to join the defending national champions next season.

"It's a great feeling being official," Lee said. "It's just really great and relieving."

Lee, ranked the No. 30 overall prospect in the nation by ESPN, announced his oral commitment to Kentucky on Oct. 17, choosing the Wildcats over Cal. Now, all his extra hours in the gym and classroom have officially paid off.

"It's just one big relief knowing that if you do put in the work, it actually helps," Lee said.

Lee credited his mom, Sheri Lee, and brother Bryan, for helping guide him to make this day possible.

"Without them, I'd be lost," Lee said.

He knows expectations will be high for him this season as part of a star-studded Kentucky that ESPN has ranked No. 1 in the nation and includes four players ranked in the top 30 in the country. But outside expectations are rarely higher than his own.

"I always try to raise my expectations just to beat them," Lee said.

Lee said he's excited to join the storied program that features a rapid fan base known as Big Blue Nation and that he loves interacting with those fans through social media.

"I love it so much," Lee said. "I enjoy talking to them, hearing from them. I go through Twitter and enjoy what they're saying."


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Lee wants to work on playing more aggressively this season.

"I'm more laid back and go with the flow," Lee said.

Deer Valley's season opens with a North Coast Section foundation game, which does not count towards team records, on Tuesday against Salesian. The Pride, the defending California Interscholastic Federation Division IV state champions, are led by Cal-bound Jabari Bird, ESPN's No. 23 ranked player in the nation.

Deer Valley won its first Bay Valley Athletic League title and reached the NCS Division I championship game last season. The Wolverines have their eyes on bigger prizes this season.

"The NCS title is just a little thing for us," Lee said. "We're trying to do much bigger things this year."

Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin