Ira Lee’s path towards collegiate basketball crossed another hurdle earlier this month when he announced his final five schools.
“I felt I had a strong relationship with all schools and I believe I could strive and do my best at each one,” said Lee, a 6-foot-8 forward. “Now it comes down to choosing one *light chuckle*.”
Lee, who has been the focus of Power Five basketball coaches for over four years, released his final five schools on August 16th. It included: Arizona, California, Maryland, Oregon, and Texas. All five of his top schools are excellent academically and usually a constant when it comes to the 64 teams heading to the NCAA Tournament each year.
Before cutting his list down, the forward, along with his AAU squad, took Vegas by storm, winning the Fab 48 tournament. While playing, he hurt his shoulder, but weeks later, he said the “shoulder is doing all right. I’m icing it and making sure I don’t do too much.”
Looking ahead, Lee has three-fifths of his visits planned out.
The last weekend of September (Sept 30 - Oct 2), the 53rd overall player according to 247Sports will be officially visiting Texas. The next weekend, Lee will head to Eugene to visit Oregon. Next, he’ll continue jetting across the country by heading to Arizona for the program’s annual Red-Blue game on October 14th.
While Lee has been to McKale Center for a game before, he has not been to a Red-Blue game yet. However, he does know it can get wild.
“I’ve always heard about it. Heard it’s sold out. This’ll be my first one.”
As of August 21st, the four-star all-around contributor had not set any official dates to Maryland or California. While a visit to Cal won’t be too hard to squeeze in with it being in his backyard, it’ll be interesting to see where the Maryland trip gets slotted. But don’t worry Terps fans, he’s not going to skip out on a trip to the East Coast.
When asked if he was still aiming to commit before his senior season begins, he responded “That is my plan.”
Prolific Prep’s schedule isn’t available online yet, but their first game last season took place on November 7th, which indicates his commitment would likely take place around the final weekend of October...give or take a few days/week.
I asked Lee about the final schools and what attracted him to them:
(Author’s note: I only asked about Texas, Oregon, and Maryland as those were the schools he did not talk about in his last interview. I have included his prior statements about Arizona and California for simplicity.)
Arizona: [His three reasons for liking UofA):"One, I was born there. Two, Coach Miller is a great coach. Three, Aaron (Gordon), Stanley (Johnson), Solomon (Hill); those dudes are my big brothers and are always in my ear about Arizona."
California: "Coach Cuonzo [Martin], they offered me my freshman year too along with Arizona," Lee explained. "Same thing. I’ll come in and be the all-around versatile forward. I gotta do it all. I gotta rebound, score and get my teammates going. That’s what they’re pitching too. Two of my AAU teammates have committed to them so I have a little pressure to go there too."
Maryland: “I’ve had a relationship with coach Nima [Omidvar], an assistant coach, for a while. He’s followed me since I was in 7th or 8th grade so I’ve had a connection with him and we’ve been talking for while. Coach Turgeon, I’ve talked with him a lot over the last few months so he made up for some of the quiet time. Overall, I feel comfortable with Maryland.”
Oregon: “Coach [Dana] Altman, we’ve talked a few times the last few weeks. With Dillon Brooks probably gone after this season, I’d fill his shoes. I’m up for the challenge. He’s a great player and we’re similar…all-around guys. That’d be my role there.”
Texas: “Coach Shaka is arguably one of the best coaches in the country so you can’t beat that. He’s a great guy. A players coach. His pitch to me was simple: ‘I want you to be my all-around, versatile forward. I need you to do everything coming in as a freshman’. I’ll be around great bigs and I’ll have great guards. So it’ll be up to me to complete the puzzle.”
With years of basketball under his belt, the next two months will point Lee towards similar, though uniquely different experiences both on and off the court. Hopefully, he didn’t find cutting his list down to five to be too stressful as his next hurdle to pass over will be one he’ll never forget.
You can follow Alec on Twitter, @UofAlec, for all your Arizona Wildcats basketball recruiting coverage.