Pack Offers Lee

New Mexico JC standout guard Desmond Lee is having a breakout sophomore season, and it has led to several scholarship offers.

New Mexico JC standout guard Desmond Lee is having a breakout sophomore season.

One of the top junior college players in the country, Lee is averaging 21.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists, and 2.0 steals per game. The 6-foot-4 guard is shooting 45.5% from the field, 79.5% from the free throw line, and 36.7% from three.

"There's not a lot that Des can't do to be completely honest with you," said New Mexico JC head coach James Miller. "He shoulders a load for us offensively, and he's very efficient. He really could average 27 or 28 points a game if he shot the ball more, but he's not selfish. He's a very unselfish kid at the two-guard spot.

"Also, he's a terrific on-ball defender when he's locked in. Defending is another area where he excels at."

It's been a long journey to New Mexico for Lee. A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Lee was a two-sport star at Booker T. Washington HS, excelling in basketball and football (quarterback).

Following his senior season, Lee attended a prep school, Heat Academy, for a year, where he helped lead the school to a 36-4 record by averaging 16 points, four rebounds, and four assists.

Lee signed a scholarship with UTEP, but failed to qualify to play in the 2010-2011 season and remained at home for a year before heading out to New Mexico.

"I found out about him through the grapevine," said Miller. "We recruited him that spring and was able to get him out here to New Mexico.

"Des is a man. He is a little older than most kids and has been through so much more than most of our kids. He has a daughter, and he is a good dad. He really tries and knows this is his chance for his family. He really has an approach to the game much more different than a lot of kids. His maturity has only increased since he's been here. Mentally he's become more tough and mature. He just understands what's going on a little better than most in general."

Because of his maturity and natural ability, colleges are recruiting Lee to come in and play right away. He holds offers from Creighton, Miami, Auburn, Arkansas, Colorado State, Duquesne, NC State, Virginia Tech, Baylor, Washington, and Illinois among others.

Back in the fall he took official visits to Colorado State and Duquesne, and he now has three trips left to take. Coach Miller believes Lee will really start to focus on recruiting after his sophomore season is over.

"He took some visits back in the fall but wasn't ready to sign," said Miller. "He has a bunch of schools on him right now, but he is still wide open. I think he's in the mindset of finishing the next month for us well and then nail it down after the season."

NC State assistant coach Rob Moxley is recruiting Lee for the Wolfpack. Moxley, who evaluated Lee when he was at Heat Academy, has already been out to watch him in action.

"Coach Moxley is really recruiting Des," said Miller. "I think that NC State's interest is really starting to pick up. They've been on him for a few weeks, and I think this is a time of the year where they may have a hole in their roster... may start to know who is coming back, who is going.

"They are really recruiting him hard and have been very aggressive over the last few weeks. NC State is close to home, and he knows about them. They have Cat Barber going there who is from the same area of Virginia. Des know about Cat."

Lee's daughter is being taken care of by his mother back in Virginia, but coach Miller doesn't think it's a necessity that he returns too close to home.

"At the end of the day, would he like to be close to home? Absolutely," Miller said. "But, I really don't think distance is going to play a factor for him.

"He has an amazing mother who is taking care of his daughter. It's a very stable environment back home and she does a great job of really helping out. When he came out here she was adamant that he worry only about school and basketball."

Lee has done just that. Not only is he excelling on the court, he is also taking care of business in the classroom.

"He's a good student," said Miller. "He goes to class, and he's very solid. He's capable of doing the work, and he'll graduate in May. He only needed nine hours to graduate this spring, but he's actually taking 19. He's a very smart individual and has taken advantage of a smaller environment stressing academics."

NC State and several other schools are working to land an official visit from Lee. When the time comes, what will he be looking for from a school?

"I believe No. 1 is obviously playing time, which is the case for most junior college kids," said coach Miller. "All of these schools want him but some need him more than other schools. He needs to go where there is a glaring need at the shooting guard or point guard position. That's important.

"Also, he will be looking at the relationships with the assistants and obviously the head coach. He needs to feel comfortable with the coaching staff and the overall situation."

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