Enter Anthony Lee.
Ohio State has started to develop options among the big men – senior Trey McDonald has stepped up this offseason, per head coach Thad Matta; senior Amir Williams shot nearly 60 percent last year, even if his hands continued to frustrate; and freshman David Bell will add depth – but the one player who could change things in a big way this year for the Buckeyes is Lee.
A graduate student who transferred in after three seasons at Temple, Lee stands 6-9, can run the floor and led the American Athletic Conference in rebounds per game a season ago with the Owls.
Sounds like a pretty neat addition, right?
“They just want me to bring my rebounding ability from Temple,” the 6-9 Lee said. “Being able to lead the conference in rebounds per game, I know over here, that’s something that they definitely need. Then me running the floor and being a leader, me being one of those guys that they need.
“Right now, I’m just trying to find my way and do the things that I need to do – try to be a leader, just help the other guys as they helped me fit into the system for a while. I think that’s what the coaches want me to do, all those things put together.”
It’s also fair to say, based on that answer, that Lee is a conscientious and thoughtful man and player – something that stands out to Matta. In fact, the head coach says Lee overthinks things at times, but the OSU head coach still loves his game.
Matta said that Lee can play both power forward and center but provides a different set of skills from previous players OSU has had of that ilk from Deshaun Thomas, LaQuinton Ross, Matt Sylvester and Othello Hunter – a skill set that will help OSU space the floor as Lee can consistently score and make plays from inside the arc rather than outside.
“We still have to get his handle a bit better,” Matta said. “We want him to increase add about tow more feet to the consistency of his jump shot, but he has a great knack of finding the basketball, rebounding or even cutting. He finds open areas really well, but he’s still learning too. At times, he overthinks things and the game is gone, so we’re trying to make it as easy as we can for him in that regard.”
Lee said he considers himself more of a ‘4’ in the way he plays but added he can play the ‘5’ if need be, as he’d be able to use his quickness and athleticism to exploit mismatches there. He’d still have the ability to get the ball when it’s in the air, as his 8.6 rebounds per game last year showed.
Lee also added 13.6 points per contest, including 20-plus performances vs. Towson, Texas, USF and UCF. While shooting nearly 50 percent, Lee hit double figures in all but six games last season. Add in his ability to get up and down the floor and Lee sees the Buckeyes being able to put together a more fluid offense this year.
“I love running the floor,” he said. “It just wasn’t shown as much last year because it was more guard-oriented, but I feel like with the team we have this year, we can definitely run up and down the floor and that’s going to be something that is going to be very important for me to do – so people can see what I bring to the team as far as being that guy that can run or stop for a jumper and stuff like that.”
Lee is also looking forward to playing for a team in Ohio State that is a perennial contender, having made four consecutive Sweet 16 appearances before last year’s opening-game loss to Dayton in the Big Dance.
“I would definitely (say I came here for) the coaches,” he said. “Coach Matta had a lot to do with that. Then I would say just all the things that they’ve accomplished in the last 10 years that he’s been here and then the last five to six years, going to Sweet 16s and things like that. I know I have an opportunity to win a championship, so I want to be part of that and I want to put my stamp on that.”