Damion Lee narrows transfer choices to five schools, including Maryland

Maryland remains in the mix for Damion Lee, perhaps the best graduate transfer in the country.

Drexel senior Damion Lee, seeking to transfer and play one year as a graduate student, cut his list of potential landing spots to five schools Sunday, and Maryland remains in play.

Lee (Calvert Hall) tweeted his choices alphabetically: Arizona, Gonzaga, Louisville, Marquette and Maryland.

The leading scorer in the Colonial Athletic Association and fifth-highest scorer in Division I with 21.4 points a game as a junior, the 6-foot-6, 200-pound shooting guard said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun that having a chance to “win a national championship” is among his priorities in picking where he winds up.

Asked whether it’s important to be the team’s leading scorer, as he was at Drexel, Lee said he understands some sacrifices might have to be made.

“As far as the whole scoring thing, not to sound in any way cocky, but I don’t think a coach would bring me in as one of the top five or 10 scorers in the country and not have me score the ball,” Lee said. “Scoring is something I want to do.

“But that’s not the main thing. I want a great chance to win not only a conference championship, but a national championship and put myself in the best position to get drafted. Helping a team is the main thing I want to accomplish.”

Lee said that he doesn’t want to go to a team “where I’m the only threat on the court.” Lee is not currently being mentioned on any NBA mock draft lists for 2016. One NBA executive who is familiar with Lee said last week that he has never seen him play in person.

“I want to go somewhere where there’s other NBA talent,” he said.

Despite making the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years and losing in the Round of 32, the Terps have become a popular choice to reach the 2016 Final Four with the return of freshman point guard Melo Trimble and junior forward Jake Layman, as well as the addition of Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter Jr. and five-star high school center Diamond Stone.

Lee, who moved to the Baltimore area in middle school, spoke to Trimble shortly after deciding to transfer. The two have known each other since playing in the same D.C. Assault Amateur Athletic Union program, though never on the same team. Lee said that he called Trimble more to “catch up” than to get a feel for what his role might be if he became a Terp.

“When I spoke to him, I had a feeling that he was going to come back, especially knowing him, I don’t think he wanted to go out like that after getting hurt [against West Virginia],” Lee said. “Knowing that the team has a pretty good chance of being very good for this upcoming season, why not continue to ride the wave and see where things can go? He said they needed me down there. I would take consideration of that.”

Lee understands that some might believe he will pick Maryland because of its proximity to his family and friends, in particular his mother, Michelle Riddick, who is a nurse in the Baltimore area. Others might think he will go to a program that has been in the spotlight as a perennial power, such as Arizona, Gonzaga or Louisville

“It’s just a matter of the right fit, the school name doesn’t matter,” he said. “Of course, Maryland is in my backyard, I’ve been there many times, I’m very comfortable with the area. I don’t feel any pressure with the fans or anything. I want people to understand that me making this decision is for me to further my career and better myself. Whichever of the four schools I don’t choose, I don’t want any hard feelings. It’s nothing against the school at all. It’s what I feel would be best for me.”

Lee has scheduled visits to Louisville and Arizona, and said that Gonzaga's coaches will visit him. He has not yet scheduled a visit to Maryland or Marquette, but expects to do so shortly.

“I couldn’t even tell you [how many inquired], I’ll pick a low number and say about 50, it’s been pretty crazy,” Lee said. “It was tough [to cut down], trying to figure out what schools I could come in and of course, help immediately because I have one year left, what schools I’ll be able to go in and do my thing and just help out for that one year and to get more recognition and exposure.”

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