Saint Peter’s Matthew Lee’s journey from walk-on to key contributor

Matthew Lee shook his head. No, even he couldn’t have imagined this three years in the past.

Not when he was nonetheless looking for a possibility, weighing Division II choices and simply searching for a shot to show he was worthy of being on a Division I roster.

“I never would have dreamt of anything like this,” the Saint Peter’s start line guard stated this week because the Fifteenth-seeded Peacocks ready for his or her Sweet 16 conflict with No. 3 Purdue on Friday in Philadelphia. “How my career was going after high school was a little shaky. I had a few doubts.”

Lee didn’t have many choices, however he wasn’t prepared to surrender on his Division I objective following a four-year career at Dohn Prep in Ohio through which he scored greater than 1,000 factors. A buddy of his, Giovanni Santiago, had not too long ago visited Saint Peter’s, and through that go to, it was prompt to the employees by Sanitago’s brother, Luis, that Lee may make sense for them. Saint Peter’s introduced him in to open gyms that summer time whereas he stayed with household within the space to see what he may do.

“I tried to win the coaches over and show them what I’m all about,” stated Lee, a junior.

Matthew Lee (left) defends Daryl Banks III during a Saint Peter's practice earlier this week.
Matthew Lee (left) defends Daryl Banks III throughout a Saint Peter’s observe earlier this week.

Every time he was invited, Lee did one thing to impress the coaches. He gave most effort. He made the additional move. He hit photographs. He defended like his basketball life relied on it.

“It was almost like he treated every day like it was a tryout,” assistant coach Ryan Whalen recalled. “I don’t know if we fully grasped what we were getting when we said, ‘Yes, you can be a walk-on.’ ”

By the center of Lee’s freshman year, he was placed on scholarship. When he was given the information, he cried. Then he known as his mother and father, they usually all cried collectively.

“I felt like I was good enough to go Division I,” he stated. “I was playing against a lot of highly recruited people in high school, and I was playing very well against them. So I thought I should have a chance.”

It was an emotional second for Lee, who grew up in his father’s well-known footsteps. Butch Lee, a New York City highschool basketball standout out of DeWitt Clinton in The Bronx, was a famous person in school, main Marquette to the 1977 nationwide championship because the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. He was drafted within the first spherical (tenth general) by the Hawks, turning into the primary participant of Puerto Rican descent to play within the NBA.

Matthew Lee talks with a reporter earlier in the week.
Matthew Lee talks with a reporter earlier within the week.
Saint Peter's players get a sendoff from the fans on Wednesday en route to their Sweet 16 matchup vs. Purdue.
Saint Peter’s gamers get a sendoff from the followers on Wednesday en route to their Sweet 16 matchup vs. Purdue.
Stephen Yang

Now, the 6-foot Matthew is having a giant March of his personal. In the NCAA Tournament, Matthew has been an integral a part of the Peacocks’ gorgeous run — averaging 6.5 factors, 4 assists and only one turnover together with his dad within the stands.

“I have a business here in Puerto Rico and I can’t even do any work,” Butch, again house in San Juan, Puerto Rico, advised The Post. “It’s been a crazy ride right now.”

Butch stated he hasn’t supplied his son a lot recommendation, as a result of to him it looks like Matthew is in management. The elder Lee can’t assist however brag to all of his associates. Whenever they requested about his son in recent times, and Butch advised them Matthew was enjoying for Saint Peter’s, they requested if that was Division I college and the place it was positioned.

They know now. Everyone does.

“It’s almost like, ‘I told you so,’ ” Butch stated. “Right now it’s a good feeling. He answered all the questions.”

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