Ohio State hopes that Anthony Lee is the tonic to shake up its stagnant frontcourt. For one year, at least.
Lee, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound center-forward, has one more season to play college basketball after he graduates from Temple in May, and before ending an official visit to Ohio State yesterday, he told coach Thad Matta that he will play it for the Buckeyes.
As a graduate transfer, Lee will be eligible immediately.
Lee, who also was pursued by a handful of other major programs, signed a Big Ten scholarship tender with Ohio State before any other school could get him to visit. He also was considering Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas, Louisville and Notre Dame.
“It came down to the coach,” Lee said last night after returning home. “I’d talked to the other coaches on the phone. Every program I talked to was a top program. It really had to do with how me and the coach would get along, and if he could get me to the next level and be one of guys who could help the team get over the hump.
“Obviously, (Ohio State) did well without me. Now, it’s about getting a championship. I know with me coming to the team, it will really help out a lot.”
Lee averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds this season for Temple, which played in the American Athletic Conference against the likes of Louisville, Connecticut, Cincinnati and Memphis.
He played in the post but has said he wants to spend more time facing the basket in his final season. He said Ohio State showed him video of how it has taken advantage of the perimeter skills of other big men such as Jared Sullinger and B.J. Mullens.
“They’re going to use me a lot as a stretch-four, where I can help out the big man and the guards by being able to take the ball to the basket and shoot three-pointers,” Lee said, “stuff I could always do but didn’t get to show.”
Lee’s addition to the roster leaves two scholarships available for next season, and with no high-school big men seemingly interested, Matta is not done chasing transfers.
Trevor Thompson, a 6-11 freshman who was given his release by Virginia Tech, tweeted yesterday that Matta will be in Florida today to visit him on spring break. Thompson, an Indianapolis native, said he was visited yesterday by Indiana coach Tom Crean and will be today by Purdue’s Matt Painter. Butler reportedly is involved, also.
Thompson averaged 5.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 16.2 minutes for the Hokies and made 11 starts. Unlike Lee, he would have to sit out next season before having three years of eligibility.