Las Vegas Classic VIDEO: Ira Lee Talks Cal
LAS VEGAS -- Ira Lee missed all of last basketball season with a torn labrum. While getting pancaked on a basketball court by a 250-pound teammate – popping his left shoulder out of place – and needing three screws in his shoulder was painful, having to stand on the sidelines and watch his Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon teammates win the Division 5 state title at Haas Pavilion was even worse.
“That was probably the roughest six months I’ve ever gone through, but my teammates, they stayed with me,” Lee said during the Las Vegas Classic in the midst of the final open viewing period of the summer. “They called me every day. They helped me through it, and I helped them through the wins. I think it went pretty smoothly.”
Getting back on the court this summer has been a relief nonpareil for the 2017 forward, as he continues to show the physicality, toughness and motor that endeared him to schools before he missed his junior season, and the California coaching staff, headed by Cuonzo Martin, is noticing.
“Oh, I’m excited. I just miss the crowd,” said Lee. “I miss playing with my guys, because we’ve all been playing with each other since eighth grade. It’s going to feel like the puzzle’s all coming together.”
Lee has a playful, almost mischievous personality, hanging around in the background of interviews, trying to make his teammates smile with a funny face or exaggerated pantomimes. He’s just as energetic on the court. He started basketball activities back in April, and it’s clear he’s still got plenty of energy pent up.
“Honestly, I’m not even really where I want to be,” said Lee, who figures he’ll be 100 percent by September. “This whole month of August, I’m going to just kill myself to get back.”
He certainly makes for a perfect match for the Energizer bunny that is Yanni Hufnagel.
“I talk to them a lot. Yanni’s always on me,” said Lee. “Every day, I get a text from Yanni. We’ve got a strong relationship.”
Having seen Haas Pavilion up close, Lee already likes the energy that can flow through that particular edifice, also.
“It was a good feeling,” Lee said. “I actually like the arena, and it’s getting better. It’s all coming down on you, with the crowd.”
There figures to be even more energy in Haas this coming basketball season, thanks to a pair of five-star freshmen in Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown..
“That tells me that they really want to win,” Lee said of the 2015 recruiting haul. “They’re bringing in players to win, and that’s what I really want.”
Lee doesn’t know where he’ll take his next visit, or what visits he wants to take, save for one.
“Not that I know of right now, but I’ll probably take a visit to Cal,” Lee said.
The Bears are “definitely” up in his top group, which also includes UCONN, Texas, Arizona, Arizona State and Auburn.
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