The Wolfpacker

May 2013 Wolfpacker

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Instant Contributor 2013 basketball recruiting issue H Junior College Transfer Desmond Lee Is Ready To Make An Impact For The Wolfpack By Jacey Zembal aving the chance to play right away is usually one of the first priorities for any junior college transfer, and Desmond Lee was no different. The New Mexico Junior College wing had everything fall into place April 8, when he picked NC State for his last two years of college. Lee wanted a chance to play in a major conference, he grew up following the ACC and — most importantly — the Wolfpack needed him. The departure of promising freshman shooting guard Rodney Purvis to Connecticut left a big hole in NC State's depth chart. Lee should compete for one of the slots vacated by the departures of Purvis and senior Scott Wood. The Norfolk, Va., native narrowed his list down to NC State, Baylor and Creighton, and either officially or unofficially visited all three schools. Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado State, Duquesne and Illinois also offered at varying points of his recruitment. Lee previously officially visited Colorado State and Duquesne during the fall, but held off on signing last November. The move paid off for the 6-4, 194-pounder, and the decision to attend NC State proved to be an easy one. "I did a lot of thinking over the course of the last few days that I've been home, and I chose NC State because of the relationship I have with [assistant] coach [Rob] Moxley, and then my dream was always to play in the ACC," said Lee, 22. "I just went off of that, and that it was close to home. Everyone just really had love for each other. It's a great place to be." Lee emphasized how important it was to be back in ACC country, and Raleigh is a little more than three hours away from the Tidewater area. "My mom and family can see me play," Lee said. "They haven't really seen me play in almost four years now. It was just a great opportunity for me. "I actually just got off the phone with coach Mark Gottfried and he was excited. He loved how I could shoot the ball, handle the ball and make plays. He thought I'd be a perfect fit. He thought I'd have a great two years." Lee shared the news with his older Lee earned second-team All-America honors on the junior college level last season after posting averages of 20.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per contest. photo courtesy new mexico junior college brother, Philron, who was excited about getting the chance to see his little brother play in person. "All they've seen is newspaper clippings or video highlights," Lee said. "Norfolk is like ACC country. My mom just wants me to get my degree." Lee officially visited NC State March 29-31 and came away impressed with the facilities. "The visit was everything I thought it would be at a high major program," Lee said. "I was pretty sure that everything would be different [from junior college], and how they work with things and the facilities." Lee led New Mexico JC to the national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., but lost in heartbreaking fashion 88-87 in overtime to the eventual champions Northwest Florida State. Lee had 23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists in his last junior college game. "I'm expecting it to be a little hard [next year] after making the transition from junior college basketball to the ACC, which is one of the best conferences in America," Lee said. "I think I'll adjust to it and be a good player like in junior college. "This past year has been so unreal and I've accomplished a lot. I helped get my team to the national tournament and we won the regional tournament." Lee averaged 20.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game for head coach James Miller. He shot 43.0 percent from the field, 33.0 percent on three-pointers and 76.8 at the free throw line. The Hobbs, N.M., program finished the year 27-7, and Lee earned second-team All-America honors on the junior college level. "Coach Miller has been unbelievable for me and the guys," Lee said. "Being able to trust him, it's unbelievable how trustworthy he is. Everything he says, he does it. He is a great player's coach. He isn't afraid to listen to us, and he had a real impact on my life. He helped improve my game and made me a better person." Before Lee arrived at New Mexico Junior College, he played both football and basketball at Norfolk Booker T. Washington High, helping the hoops squad reach the Eastern Region Championship and Group AAA State Tournament three times in four years. Lee averaged 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game his senior year of high school. He also passed for 1,268 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 450 yards while also playing free safety on the football field. Lee elected to attend Heat Academy in Martinsville, Va., for a post-graduate year in 2009-10, and averaged 16.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. He hoped to continue at UTEP, but ended up sitting out the year at home before regrouping and attending New Mexico Junior College. Lee averaged 13.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game his freshman year at NMJC, and shot 46.4 percent from the field and 33.8 from three-point land (48 of 142). Coach Miller is proud of what Lee accomplished. "When we took him two years ago, we had a program that was good, but he helped elevate it to the next level," Miller told "He's been a very special player for us for two years with everything he brought to the table. He took care of his business off the floor and was just awesome. "His ability to score is what he does best. Whether it's making shots or finishing at the rim, he scores very efficiently." ■ 26  ■  the wolfpacker 26.Desmond Lee.indd 26 4/30/13 3:35 PM

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