Back In Form

Anthony Lee is confident. Confident his back is healed and won't act up on him again. Confident in his abilities. Confident he will make an impact as a redshirt freshman on a veteran Temple men's basketball team. "The minutes I will play will be very key to helping us win a lot of games," said the 6-foot-9 forward/center matter-of-factly.

Anthony Lee is confident.

Confident his back is healed and won't act up on him again. Confident in his abilities. Confident he will make an impact as a redshirt freshman on a veteran Temple men's basketball team.

"The minutes I will play will be very key to helping us win a lot of games," said the 6-foot-9 forward/center matter-of-factly. "I'm praying and hoping I will stay healthy, which I will. There's no pressure for me. I feel like I'm ready for this moment, to do what I've been called to do, what I've been recruited for."

Lee was confident he was ready to make an impact last year as a true freshman out of West Oak Academy (Fla.) — where he averaged 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots as a senior. But a back issue which affected his entire lower body started to bother him just after practice started in October and eventually led to season-ending back surgery before he played his first collegiate game.

"It started in late October, I played (in a scrimmage) against Penn State and shut it down (for good) before we went to the tournament in Florida (Thanksgiving weekend)," said Lee. "They took out a piece of my disc — L4-L5. It was on the nerve, irritating it and causing my leg and foot to feel numb.

"I feel 100 percent now. I'm happy and thankful I'm here and playing ball. I'm ready to show everybody what I can do. The doctor said there's a real small percentage anything could come back, I'd have to do something pretty drastic for my back to get back to that point. I'm just continuing to strengthen it."

What Lee can do is use his athleticism to his advantage. The lanky 210-pounder feels he is an explosive scorer around the rim.

"I have a quick bounce, I get off the floor pretty quick," said Lee. "I like being real explosive going up to dunk, I'm quick getting by bigger guys and I can draw fouls. I use my body to get around them.

"Big guy against a big guy, two muscle dudes going against each other, refs might not call that, but my body type gives me some leeway to do things a real muscular guy can't."

Temple coach Fran Dunphy feels Lee can play 20-25 minutes a game coming off the bench behind starting center Michael Eric and power forward Rahlir Jefferson. He will be the first big man off the bench, though the Owls will sometimes go with a small lineup.

"Anthony Lee is a guy we really need," said Dunphy. "His two scrimmages have been good. He's done well, he's really quick off his feet. Hopefully he'll be able to give us (20-25 minutes). He's in good health and has a pretty good knack for rebounding and for scoring inside."

Senior guard Juan Fernandez said he's been pleasantly surprised with what he's seen out of Lee in the last month as the Owls prepare to open the 2011-2012 season on Monday at Penn.

"He's a little better than what I expected," said Fernandez. "Practice is a little different from games and I can tell you that from experience. We'll see how that turns out. We're going to need him, so hopefully he'll be able to help."

Lee is confident he can help. He spent the summer playing in Iowa, where his parents moved last year, and gained confidence that he is healthy and ready to contribute.

"I don't think there's anything I need to prove, all I have to do is play," said Lee. "I was ready to play last year, from how I was practicing, but everything happens for a reason.

"I learned a lot (sitting on the bench) last year. (The injury) was a blessing. In the long run, it will definitely work out. I'm real confident about that. I'm happy about that."

Owls Daily Top Stories