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Damion Lee stands out at prep school

The surroundings are different, but the spotlight is just as bright this season for Damion Lee.

The 2010 Calvert Hall graduate, who helped the Cardinals to last spring's Baltimore Catholic League championship, is now spending a post-grad season at perennial prep powerhouse St. Thomas More in Oakdale, Conn. Earlier this month, Lee was one of the standout players at the National Prep Showcase in New Haven, Conn.

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"Damion really came out and he was tremendous. On [the first day of the tournament], we played Lee Academy from Maine, beat them handily," said St. Thomas More coach Jere Quinn, who noted that Lee scored 19 points in the win. "It was a great learning experience. I thought the kid was good, and it was good for him seeing what was out there and recognizing prep schools for what they really are, especially the high level of competition."

Lee, a 6-foot-5 wing and second-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection as a senior, signed a letter of intent to Towson last fall, but reevaluated his decision over the course of the school year. Lee, a full qualifier who just turned 18 this fall, decided a post-grad season would be best for his development.Lee suited up for D.C. Assault over the summer and, at some point, picked the brain of former AAU teammate Bryon Allen, now a freshman guard at George Mason who prepped at St. Thomas More. Allen and his mother highly recommended Quinn's program, and shortly thereafter Lee made his decision. It's been a great fit for both parties so far.

"I think what Damion brings is leadership and hard work and intensity and energy," Quinn said. "We open the gym at 6:30 in the morning, and he hasn't missed a day. He's tremendously committed. He wants to get better. He gets along with his teammates and he gets along with his classmates. He's a 6-5 kid who can put the ball on the floor, is pretty athletic and shoots it very well. He's just a young kid who's got a very bright future ahead of him."

Lee already has scholarship offers from Hofstra, Northeastern and St. Bonaventure, while Quinn said he has also heard from Boston College, Delaware, Fordham, Loyola Marymount, Manhattan, Penn State and Siena. After the National Prep Showcase, Lee's stock is definitely on the rise.

"A lot of people are very interested in him," Quinn said. "A lot of people came in to watch us earlier and watch us as we progress. The more people see Damion, the more people like Damion. He's going to have an opportunity to go to the highest level of basketball. Now is that the smartest move? It's all about what the team makeup is. It's OK going to a smaller place. You're going to get a heck of a lot of minutes at a mid-major. If he gets the opportunity to go and play immediately, that may be his best decision. He's also trying to compete in a good situation. … Our objective is to put him in a place where he's going to play, be a successful student and be where he's comfortable."

The most notable member of this year's St. Thomas More squad is Andre Drummond, a five-star prospect and the No. 1 player in the 2012 class, according to Rivals.com. It's early in the Chancellors' season, but so far Lee and Drummond have worked well together.

"We have a nice squad," Quinn said. "We have guys who can get points, but Damion is really good in his position. He's been the leading scorer in the first two games. He makes shots. When he's making shots, Andre Drummond is playing well. In practice, [Lee is] the hardest-working kid. So he's certainly one of the main guys and probably our greatest leader right now. I would certainly say we have many hard-working kids, but he works the hardest. He gives the most out of anybody. Nobody outworks him."

Baltimore Sun photo of Damion Lee by Gene Sweeney Jr. / Jan. 22, 2010

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