NC State helped solidify its backcourt for next year with the verbal commitment of New Mexico Junior College shooting guard Desmond Lee on Monday.
The Norfolk, Va., native narrowed his list down to NC State, Baylor and Creighton, and either officially or unofficially visited all three schools. The fit to attend NC State won out as first reported by The Wolfpacker.
"I did a lot of thinking over the course of the last few days that I've been home, and I chose NC State because of the relationship I have with [NCSU assistant] Coach [Rob] Moxley, and then my dream was always to play in the ACC," said Lee, 22. "I just went off of that, and that it was close to home. Everyone just really had love for each other. It's a great place to be."
Lee emphasized how important it was to be back in ACC country, and Raleigh is a little over three hours away from the Tidewater area.
"My mom and family can see me play," Lee said. "They haven't really seen me play in almost four years now. It was just a great opportunity for me.
"I actually just got off the phone with coach Mark Gottfried and he was excited. He loved how I could shoot the ball, handle the ball and make plays. He thought I'd be a perfect fit. He thought I'd have a great two years."
Lee shared the news with his older brother, Philron, who was excited about getting the chance to see his little brother play in person.
"All they've seen is newspaper clippings or video highlights," Lee said. "Norfolk is like ACC country. My mom just wants me to get my degree."
NC State lost point guard Lorenzo Brown to the NBA Draft a year early, and freshman shooting guard Rodney Purvis is transferring to Connecticut. The addition of Lee and LSU transfer Ralston Turner should help shore up the wings with sophomore combo forward T.J. Warren next year.
"I know they had some holes in their roster," Lee said. "I'm a juco player, so I wanted to get into a situation where I can play and be comfortable."
Lee has friends who know both NC State point guards - rising sophomore Tyler Lewis and incoming freshman Anthony Barber. Former New Mexico J.C. and Norfolk Booker T. Washington High teammate Lorelle "Smoke" Waters played with Lewis on Team Loaded traveling squad. Barber attended Hampton (Va.) High and played with Boo Williams traveling team.
Lee was also prep teammates with former NCSU post player DeShawn Painter at Booker T. Washington. He expects it to be fun next year with Lewis and Barber.
"Cat Barber is a scoring guard and can also make plays and make things happen for people around him," Lee said. "Tyler Lewis from what I've seen, I know he can see the floor well and is a great passer. He also has scoring ability in his game."
Lee officially visited NC State on March 29-31 and came away impressed with the facilities.
"The visit was everything I thought it would be at a high major program," Lee said. "I was pretty sure that everything would be different [from junior college], and how they work with things and the facilities."
The 6-foot-4, 194-pounder led New Mexico J.C. to the national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., but lost in heartbreaking fashion 88-87 in overtime to the eventual champions Northwest Florida State. Lee had 23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists in his last junior college game.
"I'm expected it to be a little hard [next year] after making the transition from junior college basketball to the ACC, which is one of the best conferences in America," Lee said. "I think I'll adjust to it and be a good player like in junior college.
"This past year has been so unreal and I've accomplished a lot. I helped get my team to the national tournament and we won the regional tournament."
Lee averaged 20.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game for coach James Miller. He shot 43 percent from the field, 33 percent on three-pointers and 76.8 at the free-throw line.
The Hobbs, N.M., program finished the year 27-7, and Lee earned second-team All-American honors on the junior college level.
"Coach Miller has been unbelievable for me and the guys," Lee said. "Being able to trust him, it's unbelievable how trust-worthy he is. Everything he says, he does it. He is a great players coach. He isn't afraid to listen to us, and he had a real impact on my life. He helped improve my game and made me a better person."