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Arizona forward Ira Lee talks 2020-21 season, senior leadership, quarantine routine, and more

gonzaga-vs-arizona-basketball-game-time-tv-channel-live-stream-odds-radio-watch-online-doutrive Jacob Snow-USA TODAY Sports

Ira Lee has a unique designation on Arizona’s roster as the only player who signed with the Wildcats out of high school and will spend four seasons with them. So even though the forward is known for bringing energy off the bench, he is also, in a way, the face of the program.

That means he gets to do things like interview with Andy Katz and update Wildcat fans on the state of the program and what he has been doing to stay sharp during the coronavirus crisis.

Here is that interview, which I have transcribed below.

On what Lee has been doing during quarantine: “I’ve been doing alright. I keep a routine. I wake up, eat my breakfast, clean up the house a little bit, get a workout in and just do homework. That’s all we can do right now.”

On what kinds of workouts he does: “I have a ball, I dribble every day. I’ll run around the block a couple times each day. That’s about it. I’ll do push ups. I don’t have a lot of equipment, so I’m just making do with what I have.”

On doing all his schoolwork online: “Academically it’s been pretty organized. We do everything through Zoom. Our meetings, we still have study hall, we still have tutoring, it’s just everything is through Zoom. It took about a week or two to get used to, but I’ve gotten the hang of it. And then as far as my teammates, we text each other all day every day, we play 2K together, and the coaches call us every other day.”

On the way the season ended: “Honestly, I think we were about to make a big run. We beat Washington the day before all this stuff happened. Everything was just clicking. Guys were ready. We all had that winning mentality. And plus we had a lot of seniors. People forget that. We had a lot of freshmen but we had a lot of seniors too. This was their last run. So I think we were about to make a good stride and I think were gonna make a lot of noise in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournament.”

On getting to play with Josh Green, Nico Mannion, and Zeke Nnaji: “Everybody sees the big three freshmen, they’re stars, they are. You can’t run away from that, but I see those guys every day. They’re like my little brothers. At the end of the day people forget they’re kids, so I miss having that aspect. And they love the game. They love learning. Any advice the older guys gave them, they took in. They had no egos. They just wanted to win, they just wanted to play hard. That’s why I compliment them the most on it. That’s why I think they’re gonna have a great career in the NBA.”

On next year’s team: “I think right now we have a really good core group. We got guys like Jemarl Baker Jr., Jordan Brown coming in off his redshirt year, James Akinjo, me. And then Dalen Terry coming in. He’s gonna be a really good addition. He’s a versatile 6-7, 6-8 guard. If we put some weight on him, he’ll probably play a little forward for us too. But I think we’re going to be a good team next year. We got older guys that are experienced, that have been through some things. As long as we get a couple more grad transfers, a couple more freshmen to sign, I think we’re going to be just fine. I have no worries about next year.”

On his senior year: “I’ve been waiting for this. It’s my fourth year, so I definitely want to go out with a bang. And even right now, even though we’re in quarantine and everything, I’ve just been making sure I keep my body right, eating the right things, just to make sure when this stuff is done, I’ll come back prepared and ready to lead.”

On the importance of senior leadership: “I think it’s really important. My freshman year here, we won the Pac-12 regular (season) and tournament and people forget we had Dusan Ristic, we had Keanu (Pinder), we had Parker Cartwright. We had guys like that that brought us together. The focus was on Allonzo (Trier) and Deandre (Ayton), but behind the scenes people forget those are the guys that kept us together and that got us to those wins. So I think it’s gonna be a really important part for me and especially Jemarl. Jemarl is gonna be a senior as well. So we’re gonna have a really big role and we’re ready for it.”