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LeBron James impressed by Lauri Markkanen, stayed up late to watch Arizona basketball

LeBron stayed up late to watch Arizona basketball last year

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James is fan of Arizona Wildcats, apparently.

The NBA superstar was impressed by UA quarterback Khalil Tate’s record-breaking performance against the Colorado Buffaloes a few weeks ago, and now he’s admiring the game of ex-Wildcat Lauri Markkanen.

Markkanen had 19 points and 7 rebounds on 7-12 shooting, while hitting 5-8 from 3 against LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.

James described Markkanen as “very confident” — and admitted that he stayed up late to watch Arizona basketball last year.

“Had to say up very late to watch those Arizona games, but very confident kid,” James said, via the Chicago Tribune. “Can shoot the heck of the ball. He’s going to continue to get better. The best thing about it is he’s getting an opportunity. So you can make mistakes and learn on the fly. But he’s going to play a lot because he’s learning. He’s a good player.”

Markkanen has been able to start for the Bulls after two of the team’s power forwards got into an altercation before the start of the the season. Bobby Portis was suspended for the first eight games, while Nikola Mirotic has a broken face and is out indefinitely.

Markkanen has taken advantage of the opportunity, averaging 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest through three games.

Tuesday, the 7-footer became the first player in NBA history to make 10 3-pointers in his first three career games.

While staying up late to watch Markkanen play last year (thanks, Pac-12), James also noticed the Finn’s footwear.

“He wore my shoes a couple times. He actually did,” James said. “He wore my retros. I liked that.”

Like James, Markkanen is endorsed by Nike. He also appreciates LeBron’s compliments.

"It feels awesome to hear that from him, but I can’t be satisfied,” Markkanen said, via the Chicago Tribune. “We haven’t won a game yet."


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire