The Wolverine

May 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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  where are they now?   where are they Now? Former Captain C.J. Lee Is Still Leading For John Beilein's Wolverines J By Chris Balas ust how much impact can a player who averages 2.8 points and 1.5 assists per game have on a program? In the case of one former Wolverine, more than most basketball fans might have imagined. U-M hoops is back among the elite programs in the country, having done it the only way head coach John Beilein knows — with integrity and an appreciation for team that trumps even the fundamentals as the most important aspect of a winner. Nobody embraced that more than 2008‑09 captains and former walk-ons C.J. Lee and David Merritt, who — along with Zack Novak and Stu Douglass — will be remembered as two of the cornerstone bricks in the foundation of the "new" Michigan basketball program. Athletics director David Brandon admitted he wasn't certain why Beilein took the job As a fifth-year senior in 2008-09, Lee was named a cocaptain. He played a key role in Michigan's late-season run and subsequent return to the NCAA Tournament, where U-M advanced to the second round. photo by per kjeldsen given where the program had slid in the 10 years prior, but the coach's reputation as a builder got the better of him. Lee remained part of it, even when he graduated. When Beilein had an opening on his staff following director of operations Brian Townsend's promotion, he had one man in mind for the job — the same young man he'd told only a few years earlier not to expect much as a walk-on in his program. "I called him in my office when he first got there," Beilein recalled. "He was a walk-on. I said, 'C.J., I want you to understand something. You will shag balls. You are going to be a manager/roster player. You will never play. You will never get a scholarship. You will never start.' "He just said, 'Yes sir, yes sir, yes sir.' By the end of it, he was on scholarship. He was a starting guard in the

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