Both Ira Lee and California basketball are looking different these days. Lee has made the move from the Nike-sponsored Oakland Soldiers to the Under Armour-powered Earl Watson Elite AAU squad, and, coincidentally, the Bears are readying for a move to Under Armour before the 2017 season.
"I thought it was a good move," Lee said of Cal moving to the brand of Steph Curry. "Under Armour, they really do take care of theirs, and their shoes are really comfortable. Their apparel in general is really nice, and they're definitely on top now. Under Armour is not a sleeper. It's not a sleeper brand. Everybody knows who Under Armour is, definitely thanks to Steph Curry, who just happens to be right down the street."
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1663434-under-armour-what-... Lee hasn't been to Oracle, since he made the move from Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon to Napa, though he's hoping to catch a Warriors playoff game sometime soon. But, Lee has visited Berkeley multiple times since making the move to Napa, and he's had plenty of Bears -- current and future -- in his ear. Moving to Earl Watson Elite has brought him into the orbit of a potential future teammate in 2017 Cal commit Jemarl Baker.
"J, he's my guy, that's my guy," Lee said. "He texted me in December about coming to Earl Watson, and he's always in my ear about Cal, of course. He's my guy. We mesh well on the court, and he lets me do my thing, and I let him do his thing."
Baker's thing is shooting the lights out.
"Sometimes, they let me take the ball up the court, so I can set him up for his shots, because, to me, I think he's probably one of the best shooters in the country," Lee said. "He can flat-out shoot. Off the pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop, he can get it to me, and he always knows. We always know we'll get it to each other. That's the thing, between us. We always know where our spots are, and he knows I like to be at the top, in the mid-post area, and I know he likes the corners and the wings. I mean, he can hit the three from anywhere. Honestly, wherever I throw him the ball, he can shoot it."
Does Baker have Curry-esque range?
"I think it's close to that," Lee laughed. "I think it's really similar to that. It's crazy."
"It's been great," Lee said of the move to Earl Watson. "I love the guys I'm around. When people look at us, they don't really see an intimidating team, but we all work hard. We're all scrappy, and we all like to win. I think that's the big part of our success, so far."
Lee's had regular contact with the Bears since the tumultuous end of the season, and, he said, Cal is "still treating me a a priority."
"They're showing me a lot of love," Lee said. "Coach [Tracy] Webster, coach Cuonzo [Martin], they came out to my games these last two [AAU] sessions, and they always give me feedback on what I do well, what I can work on, so our relationship is still pretty strong. They like the fact that I'm making more decisions now with the ball, and they like my passing, setting up my teammates, and I've got to thank Jemarl there, too, because my assists are coming from his threes. He's been helping me out."
Along with Baker, Lee has another voice in his ear, talking about Cal -- Ivan Rabb, another former Oakland Soldier, who, as of last night, will return for his sophomore season, and eschew the NBA Draft.
"Shoot, they want to win," Lee said. "They want to win. Ivan, Ivan's a good friend of mine. I always talk to him. He's always in my ear, about coming to Cal. I know that he's a dude that likes to win. Obviously, he felt that he could have gone out with a bigger bang, and I think that's what his plan is, next year."
Since the end of his high school season, Lee has been working out and focusing on school. He finished his fall semester with a 3.7 GPA, and is well on track to maintain that this semester, with a month left in the school year.
"School definitely is first, for me, and working out, I've got to keep my body right. I've got to be ready for these evaluation periods," said Lee, who's also getting a lot of love from Stanford and Texas.
"Stanford, with their new coaching staff, they came in last week and visited me," Lee said. "Same with Texas. I talk with coach Shaka [Smart] a lot, and coach [Darrin] Horn came out last week to see me, too, so they've been keeping a close bond with me. Texas, they like my versatility, and coach Shaka, he likes to get up and down. He likes guys with my size who can get the ball off the glass and take it up the court and make all the decisions without waiting for a point guard. He's that type of coach, so he's always presented that to me, ever since he gave me the offer. It's nothing new, really.
"Stanford, obviously, they're probably the best academic school in the country right now, so they throw that at me a lot, and they're new, and they think I'd be a great mold for them."