Anthony Lee overcomes injury, shines in Prime Time

BY KYLE HUGHES | JULY 19, 2011 7:20 AM

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Anthony Lee is finally able to play basketball again — and he's playing it well.

The 21-year-old sat out his entire freshman season at Temple last year after he had major back surgery to correct a herniated disk that was up against a nerve and caused weakness in his foot.

The eight games he played in the Prime Time League this season were his first live action since the injury. The 6-9 forward was dominant in the post, averaging 21 points and 12.8 rebounds per game.
He seemed to get better every week and peaked in his final game of the summer. Lee scored 35 points and had 21 rebounds in a 93-91 loss in the first round of the playoffs, and he nearly led his short-handed team to the win.

Lee said Temple's coaching staff allowed him to take the whole summer off from the Owls basketball program to get his game back to where it needed to be. His parents moved to Davenport in March, and the Prime Time League seemed like a perfect fit.

Lee's father, Anthony Lee Sr., grew up in Davenport but has spent the last 25 years repeatedly moving around the country. The elder Lee came back to Iowa be the pastor of Harvest Time Family Worship Center, and he has spent much of the summer helping his son rehabilitate his game.

"I've had him in the gym pretty much every day, working on his shot and [adding] different variations to his game," the elder Lee said.

The pastor said he would like his son to play like former NBA star Dennis Rodman, with a lot of additional offense. This summer, he said, his son has played like he hoped.

The younger Lee has established position deep in the post, finished at the hoop with contact, and flashed a midrange game that makes him a difficult matchup for opponents.

The younger Lee said he still considers his defense to be his bread and butter, though.

"Every game, [my father] tells me I need to be a defensive-minded person first," he said. "I know when I go back to Temple, that's what they're really going to want me to do."

Prime Time League teammate and Iowa forward Devon Archie said playing with Lee this summer has been beneficial for everyone.

"We push each other to go out and play hard," Archie said. "When somebody is messing up [or] somebody gets frustrated, we get in a time-out and talk to each other."

Even if Lee occasionally reminds people of Dennis Rodman on the court, he is nothing like the notorious bad boy off the floor.

This summer, Lee has been working with kids in Davenport at his father's church. While there, he mentors kids about facing bullying, resolving conflicts, and setting positive goals.

His father's faith has also inspired Lee's choice of music. Lee dabbles in gospel rap — he goes by the name Young Polo — and said he has performed concerts for some of the kids he mentors.

"I just go and give them a good message telling them that they have a destiny, a plan, and a purpose," Lee said.

Lee said he has been rapping as Young Polo since age 13 and has a mix-tape coming out soon. He performed on the Temple campus a few times last year, and the YouTube video for his song "All About the Ring" has been viewed more than 200 times.

He said he enjoys rap but is focused on returning to a Temple team that made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year.

"I'm so ready to come back to school this fall and make a mark at Temple," Lee said. "I've got a pretty big role to play. I just wanted to come [to Prime Time], get myself back in shape, and do what I need to do to help us go further in the tournament."

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