A closer look at the factors in Damion Lee's transfer decision

On Sunday, Drexel transfer Damion Lee (Calvert Hall) announced that he had cut his list of schools that he is still considering to five: Arizona, Gonzaga, Louisville, Marquette and Maryland.

Lee said there will be a number of factors to consider. Here is a closer look at how some of those factors line up with his potential future schools:


Winning a national championship

Based on last season's performance and the projections looking ahead to 2015-16, four of the five schools on Lee's list make some sense while one, Marquette, appears to be the outlier.


Maryland has been given 12-1 odds in Las Vegas to win a national championship, pretty heady stuff for a program that just made it back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years and only reached the Round of 32.

According to OddsShark, Gonzaga and Arizona are each 25-1 to win it all next year. Louisville is 33-1 and Marquette is 100-1.

Given the fact that Louisville coach Rick Pitino is the only one in the group to have been to a Final Four – Marquette's Steve Wojciechowski did it as an assistant at Duke – that might help the Cardinals' chances of landing Lee. Sean Miller's three Elite Eight appearances shouldn't hurt the Wildcats.

Playing time

Lee has the confidence to believe he will get playing time wherever he goes, yet after being among the nation's leaders in minutes played (more than 38 a game as a junior), you have to figure that he's not going to want that number coming down dramatically.

For that reason, the Terps might have the toughest sell. Though Mark Turgeon had three starters last season average more than 30 minutes per game --  freshman point guard Melo Trimble averaged 33.5 -- the Maryland coach is hoping that the depth he is adding for next season will bring those numbers down.

Maryland definitely has a need for a guard with Lee's size and skill set, not only on offense but at the defensive end. Neither Dion Wiley nor Jared Nickens are expected to be quite ready to assume the kind of role Dez Wells played the last couple of years. Lee is, and that would be Turgeon's biggest selling point.

The favorite in the playing time category could be Gonzaga, which lost both point guard Kevin Pangos and shooting guard Byron Wesley and doesn't have a whole lot coming in behind them.


At Marquette, Wojo signed four-star shooting guard Haanif Cheatham (No. 82 according to but brings back only JaJuan Johnson at the position. Lee would likely get all the minutes he wants and all the shots he needs with the Golden Eagles.

Arizona signed five-star shooting guard Allonzo Trier (No. 15) and already has 2014 national junior player of the year Kadeem Allen ready to go after sitting out last season.

Looking to replace Chris Jones, who was kicked off the team during the season after being charged with rape, Louisville's top-rated recruit is shooting guard Donovan Mitchell (No. 43). Louisville also added another graduate transfer, Cleveland State guard Trey Lewis, who is considered a scoring point guard (16.7 ppg this season) .


It's yet to be determined how many national television games Lee's suitors will get next season, and how many NBA scouts will attend the team's games. Based on the early hype, and the number of NBA prospects each team has, the Terps could tell Lee that his best chance to be seen – and scouted – would be in College Park.

In reality, it's not even close.


Trimble will be a preseason All-American and could get some attention for preseason Big Ten Player of the Year, Diamond Stone was a McDonald's All-American who according to most is a lottery pick next year, and former Georgia Tech standout Robert Carter Jr. has made CBS Sports' list as one of the five best transfers in the country.  Add to that Jake Layman, who is currently No. 20 on's 2016 mock draft list and you have a potential starting lineup of future pros.

Gonzaga has a trio of highly touted (and scouted) big men in Kyle Wiltjer, Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski (who still might declare for this year's draft).

Most of Arizona's talent has left Tucson, and as good as Trier is, he's not going to bring the attention Stanley Johnson did as a freshman last season.

Louisville, too, is more in reloading mode after losing Montrezl Harrell and Wayne Blackshear.

Marquette adds big man Henry Ellenson, who shared Wisconsin player of the year honors with Stone.

As far as television exposure, you have to figure that the Terps are going to be all over the ESPN (as well as CBS) as the Big Ten favorite. They're going to be one of the marquee attractiions in both the Big Ten-ACC Challenge  (can we please have a Maryland-Duke rematch?)  as well as in the inaugural Gavitt Games between the Big Ten and Big East (can we please have a Maryland-Georgetown renewal?). The Terps also play Connecticut at Madison Square Garden.



In terms of Lee's game, NBA scouts are basically looking at a blank canvas regardless of what he's done at Drexel. One NBA executive told me that he was familiar with Lee, yet still not seen him play in person. One coach whose team faced Drexel called Lee "a poor man's Reggie Miller," though no one is expecting him to be a second-coming of the former Indiana Pacers star.

Lee prides himself on playing an all-around game and is an underrated defender. One of the things Wells did as a senior was taking on the role of shutdown perimeter defender, and by showing that skill, he might have played himself into the latter part of the NBA draft -- or, at the very least, getting a legitimate chance of making an NBA roster as a free agent.

There are plenty of mid-major scorers in the NBDL and in Europe; there are even big-time scorers from bigger conferences who never made a dent in the NBA. (Two players with local ties, former Miami star Jack McClinton and former Virginia Tech star Malcolm Delaney, come immediately to mind. Both are overseas). Antoine Mason, who led the nation in scoring with 25.6 points a game two years ago at Niagara, scored 14.4 a game on a bad Auburn team last season.

Lee's mother, Michelle Riddick, said recently in an interview with The Baltimore Sun that the graduate program her son picks has to give him a legitimate chance of getting a post-graduate degree. Of all the schools on his list, Maryland has the most experience with post-grads, most recently Richaud Pack and Evan Smotrycz last season.

Many believe that Maryland has to be a favorite given its sudden return to college basketball's elite as well as its proximity to Baltimore, where Riddick works as a nurse and where Lee went to Calvert Hall. Both assert that Lee will go to the school that is "the best fit" and Riddick said that going whereever her son winds up won't be difficult given how close she lives to BWI.


It's easy to see that there are many different ways this can play out.

If Lee wants to be his team's main scorer and play 35 minutes a game, he won't be coming to Maryland.

If he wants have a chance to be one of the most talented teams in college basketball and have the possibility of playing deep into March -- not to mention get home for an occasional dinner -- he might.