Damion Lee nets 36 in his Louisville opener

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - In his first game with the University of Louisville basketball team, Damion Lee lived up to the hype. The fifth-year transfer from Drexel netted 36 points on 11 of 18 from the field in an 89-81 loss to the Puerto Rican National Team.

University of Louisville basketball fans had heard the hype and at least on the first night in a Cardinals' uniform Damion Lee lived up to it, scoring 36 points to lead the Cardinals.

Lee, a fifth-year transfer from Drexel, had 75 schools contact him about transferring before landing at U of L. Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino said in practices leading up to the Puerto Rico trip that Lee was the "best player on the floor."

And he wasn't kidding.

The 6-foot-6 Lee hit 11 of 18 from the field, including 5 of 10 three-pointers, and was perfect on nine three-point attempts. He finished with two steals, two assists and one rebound.

"It was good to finally play a game with the guys and to see some shots fall, but I would have rather had a win," Lee said after the Cardinals' dropped an 89-81 decision to Pitino and his Puerto Rican National Team.

Pitino said he was "very pleased" with Lee after the game.

“I think you all see what I mean about Damion Lee," Pitino said with a smile, comparing him to Ron Mercer, who played for Pitino at Kentucky. "I think this young man has a chance of greatness."

Lee hit five three-pointers and added two mid-range shots and several getting to the basket. U of L freshman Donovan Mitchell said about Lee's performance, "it's like that every day."

"He can put it on the floor and also shoot it," Pitino said of Lee. "He's a good one."

One of the most sought-after transfers on the market this offseason, Lee is a native of Baltimore and knew U of L assistant coach Kenny Johnson from his AAU days in the Washington D.C.-area. Johnson was the main recruiter in the process for U of L.

As a freshman, Lee was named Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year after averaging 12 points and 4.4 rebounds a game. He was named CAA Rookie of the Week four different times and had 30 steals and 62 assists.

Lee followed up his fabulous freshman season with a sensational sophomore campaign. He was named to the All-CAA Second Team and was a Second Team All-District pick. He led the team and was third in the CAA with 17.1 points a game and was second in the league in free-throw percentage (92.9) and fourth in three-pointers a game (2.3).

A first-team All-Conference selection in the preseason during the 2013-14 season, Lee scored 22 points at UCLA in the opener but was injured in the NIT Season Tip Off and missed the rest of the season. He received a medical hardship waiver.

During his final season at Drexel, Lee averaged 21.4 points a game - fourth-best in the nation - along with 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals a game. He shot 38.5 percent from three-point range and 88.7 percent from the free-throw line.

Lee, who fractured his right hand in February and missed the final three games of the season, attempted 14.4 shots a game. He has scored 1,542 points during his career and has made 196 three-pointers in three seasons.

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