THROWBACK THURSDAY 11.8.12 Michael Lee (Men's Basketball) 2002-05

Nov. 8, 2012

Michael Leeand high school teammate Aaron Miles joined forces again at Kansas, becoming the first basketball players from the state of Oregon to suit up for the Jayhawks. He entered into elite company at Allen Fieldhouse when he chose to wear No. 25, being the first Jayhawk to wear that number since the legendary Danny Manning. Lee earned the James Naismith Captain Award in 2004 and was an Academic All Big-12 Second Team selection his senior season. After his career at KU, Lee played professional basketball from 2005-07 with the Harlem Globetrotters. He also played in France with Entente Orleans and in Canada for IBL’s Vancouver Volcanoes. Lee is now in his third season as an assistant basketball coach at the University of San Francisco. He is a proud new father of one, Reagan Emily Lee.

When did you realize KU was where you wanted to attend college?
“It was late in the process for me. The University of Oregon wanted a package deal with (Aaron) Miles and me, but they wanted me to redshirt. Oregon State stopped recruiting after they signed a wing out of California. Nevada Reno wanted me but I didn’t feel comfortable with them at all. It wasn’t until Kansas realized that Daniel Ewing was signing with Duke that they put an offer on the table for me. I knew after the first phone call from Coach (Roy) Williams that I wanted to be a Jayhawk. I committed to KU on Late Night.”

What is your favorite memory from your playing days at KU?
“My sophomore year is my favorite memory from playing at KU. That year was special to me because this was when I was in the rotation and making that run to the Final Four. I wasn’t sure how many people believed we would beat Duke and then Arizona to get back to a Final Four for a second-straight year. This one was special for me because just a year earlier we had equal success but I wasn’t in the rotation as a freshman. To have my family there in Anaheim, Calif., with me meant everything to me and I wasn’t going to let them down.”

110812aac_479_6645613.jpegDo you get the opportunity to keep in touch with many former teammates and coaches?
“Due to my job as an assistant coach, I see my former coaches when I’m out on the recruiting trail; guys like Joe Dooley, Kurtis Townsend, Coach Self, Coach Williams, C.B. McGrath, Norm Roberts, Steve Robinson, Jerod Hasse, etc. The guys I keep up with the most are Aaron Miles, Jeff Hawkins, Wayne Simien, Keith Langford, Lewis Harrison and Moulaye Niang. I try my best to keep in touch with (Drew) Gooden, (Nick) Collison and (Kirk) Hinrich as well.”

In your opinion, who is the best player that you played with or against during your time at Kansas?
110812aac_479_6645612.jpeg“Best player I played with at Kansas, hands down, is Kirk Hinrich. ‘K-Rich’ had such a chip on his shoulder, he was one of those guys that would win every sprint, every drill—he would win everything. He hated to lose. My freshman year I didn’t want to lose because I was scared of Kirk. He always sat at the back of the bus, would not talk and he would just stare. He was the hardest worker in the weight room and on the court. He never complained and I watched him destroy guys he went up against. I learned so much just by being able to watch him work, and the more I think about it, the more I realize he was the best player I went up against. I guarded Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Antoine Wright (Texas A&M) just to name a few, but I had more trouble guarding Kirk every day in practice.”

You are in your third season at the University of San Francisco as an assistant basketball coach. What are some of your responsibilities?
“My primary responsibility is to recruit in California, Oregon, Texas, Kansas and Washington. On the floor I’m the guards coach. I do opponent scouting as well.”


When did you decide coaching was something you wanted to pursue?
“I never decided, it just kind of happened. In 2008 I was the graduate assistant for KU. After winning the national championship that year, Coach Self asked me what I thought about a full-time assistant job. My first answer was that I wasn’t sure but we sat down and discussed the pros and cons of it all. We both agreed I should at least go through the interview process. It turns out a week later I was offered the job at Gardner Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C. After accepting the job I still wasn’t sure it was what I wanted to do, but what I found out quickly is I have an absolute and sincere passion for coaching. I was a voice for our players; they listened to me and with that, I gave them all I could. My father has been a basketball coach my whole life, and practically his whole life, so it was something I knew I could do. I also had the benefit of playing for two great coaches in Bill Self and Roy Williams. I often think about what those guys taught me.”

What did it feel like to be with the team at the 2008 NCAA National Championship?
“It was a weird feeling because I couldn’t help but think of that situation of being down by three. It was almost the exact same scenario I was in back in 2003 against Syracuse. Before the play occurred, my heart was pounding. It was a crazy feeling. I was mad because the security guards wouldn’t let me on the floor and the celebration died down by the time I got down on the court. But Mario (Chalmers) stepped up and made a huge shot. I was so nervous. My heart was pumping, adrenaline was racing and I wasn’t even in the game.”

How often do you get to follow KU while coaching your own team?
“Not often, there is enough going on with our guys at USF to keep me occupied every second of my day.”

110812aac_479_6645614.jpegWhat have you learned most about life in the last couple of years since leaving college?
“Life is truly what you make it, period! I despise excuses. As a player I complained and made excuses because I was immature and I thought I had all the answers and I was stubbornly determined to prove myself right. Life has a unique way of making you grow up fast. Life is tough and it’s not fair, but it is what it is and you just have to go through some things. There is no way around or over it, you just have to sit still and endure.”




Lee as a Globetrotter

Lee with daughter,
Reagan Emily Lee

Lee and fiancee