Kurk Lee, a high-scoring guard who led Towson State to a 1990 NCAA tournament berth and a near-upset of regional top seed Oklahoma will be one of four former area basketball stars bidding for a roster spot with the Washington Bullets when training camp opens at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg Tuesday afternoon.
Lee, released by the New Jersey Nets after making the team as a free agent last season, will be joined by former Maryland standouts Albert King and Cedric Lewis and Coppin State alumnus Larry Stewart.
King, a 6-foot-6 forward who played eight seasons in the NBA before being cut by San Antonio after the 1988-89 season, earned another look from the Bullets along with Stewart, a 6-7 small forward, and Lewis, a 6-10 power forward, who also participated in the team's June free-agent camp.
But this will be the first Bullets trial for Lee, the former Dunbar High star, who, after transferring from Western Kentucky, helped put Towson State on the Division I basketball map by averaging just under 26 points in his two seasons with the Tigers. He was named the ECC Player of the Year in 1988-89 and again the next season.
"I feel this is a better opportunity for me than I had with the Nets last season," said Lee, who played a total of 265 minutes in 48 games as Bill Fitch's fifth guard. He averaged 1.4 points, shooting 27 percent (19-for-71) from the field.
"After the Bullets traded Darrell Walker to Detroit and lost Haywoode Workman [to Italy], I figured they'd be looking for a backup point guard for Michael Adams," Lee said. "The Bullets talked to my agent, Glen Schwartzman, and then [Bullets coach] Wes Unseld talked to me personally a few weeks ago. That showed me they had a genuine interest."
The Nets, who made Georgia Tech playmaker Kenny Anderson their No. 1 draft pick, and the Dallas Mavericks also invited Lee to training camp, but the 6-foot guard with the feathery jump shot figured his odds were best in Washington.
"The Mavericks had me playing on their rookie/free-agent team in Los Angeles this summer," said Lee, "but they've still got Derek Harper and Fat Lever to play the point. The Nets have Anderson and Mookie Blaylock to run their offense, but right now the Bullets have only Adams."
Although he had little opportunity to prove himself as a rookie in the NBA, Lee shows no bitterness toward Fitch or the Nets.
"Not many free agents make it in the NBA, and it was a great learning experience for me," he said. "I understood the situation. [University of Connecticut star] Tate George was a No. 1 draft pick. They had to use him over me, and when Blaylock got hurt, Fitch moved Reggie Theus to the point. I had no room to complain."
Of the three big men with Maryland roots, Stewart, who averaged 15.8 points and seven assists in a summer round-robin tourney with Detroit, Indiana and New Jersey, could have the best opportunity.
Small forward Bernard King, the team's scoring leader last season, is expected to be sidelined until December after arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this month. Power forward Mark Alarie will undergo an operation today in Birmingham, Ala.
The Bullets have also invited free agents Tim Legler, Corey Gaines, Jerome Harmon and Marty Dowell to training camp. Legler, a 6-4 guard from La Salle, had brief test with Phoenix in 1989. Gaines, a 6-4 guard from Loyola Marymount, played sparingingly for New Jersey and Philadelphia.
Harmon is a free agent from Kentucky, and Dowell is a 7-foot center from San Diego State.