One of the few players to start and finish a 4-year career with Arizona during the Sean Miller era won’t be taking for a fifth go-around with the Wildcats.
Senior forward Ira Lee confirmed on Twitter shortly after the UA’s season-ending loss at Oregon that he won’t return for the 2021-22 season, at least not with with the Wildcats.
My basketball career at Arizona has came to an end tonight! I have so many emotions and memories that I could write a book. These 4 years have been eye opening and a lot of fun, Love you guys forever and thankful to be a Wildcat for life ⬇️ #Beardown pic.twitter.com/zyMCYc1y0Y— Ira Lee (@iramandoesit) March 2, 2021
The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Lee, who had 5 points and 3 rebounds in his final game, averaged 3.9 points and 3.2 rebounds in 113 career games including eight starts. He started against Washington on Senior Day but did not score.
A former 4-star prospect, Lee was part of the 2018 recruiting class that included Deandre Ayton, Brandon Randolph, Emmanuel Akot and Alex Barcello. Ayton turned pro after one season, going first overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, while Akot left the team midway through his sophomore year and is now at Boise State and Barcello has played the last two years at BYU. Lee is only the eighth player under Miller to sign with the UA out of high school and stay four seasons.
Lee’s UA career included several ups and downs, including a DUI citation prior to the 2018-19 season, yet he’s always remained one of the most positive and outspoken members of the program.
“Ira is a great kid,” Miller said last week. “He’s one of the most popular players on all four teams that he’s played on. And trust me, there’s a lot of guys that come and go during the four years he’s been here. So if you take inventory of what I just said, being a great teammate, really caring about the team that he’s a part of, respecting our basketball program, those are things that Ira gets an A+ in. He’s also going to graduate, and getting a degree from the University of Arizona alone is quite an accomplishment. So he’ll do that this spring and I also think that he’s been a key contributor and been able to impact each of the four teams that he’s been on.”
Thanks to the NCAA not counting this season toward a player’s eligibility, Lee can play one more year, so maybe we’ll see him get a bigger role at another school in 2021-22.
Arizona is also losing walk-on senior Matt Weyand, Miller confirmed during his postgame press conference. He said it remains to be seen if Terrell Brown Jr., who joined the team this season as a graduate transfer from Seattle, will come back.