Interview conducted by Chris Monter
Ahjany Lee, a 6-foot-8, 195-pound big man from Byron (MN) High, is one of the top players in Minnesota in the Class of 2022.
GopherHole caught up with Lee June 13th at the Breakdown Summer Series to learn the latest on his recent visit to Minnesota, his college recruitment and upcoming senior year.
Gopher Hole: You are playing with your high school team after playing AAU ball. How nice is it to be out with your high school team again?
Ahjany Lee: It’s nice. I haven’t really seen them much this summer, because COVID is dying down, so it is nice to get back with the school team. Get back with people that I have known and been with for awhile.
GopherHole: How about your team for this year? I know that you lost a couple of key seniors, but you had a great year this past season, won the section finals by knocking off top seed Austin. You kind of ran into a buzzsaw in Minnehaha Academy, but you actually gave them their closest game in the postseason. What are the expectations for you guys this upcoming year?
Ahjany Lee: The same thing, but more. Sure, we lost our leading scorer and another really good senior for us, but we are just adjusting to playing new. Some other people are going to have to step up. I know that I am going to try to do my best to do everything I can. The shots will be more spread out. We’ll just have to knock them down.
GopherHole: What things are you really working on this summer to continue to improve yourself as a basketball player?
Ahjany Lee: Everything, really. Mainly, shooting off the dribble, again, just like last summer. Trying to maintain a high level of defense, while being able to play offense. The biggest things for me right now is just consistency.
GopherHole: I know that you have got a lot of offers. Do you still keep track of how many offers you got?
Ahjany Lee: Right now, I got 8. Iowa, Minnesota, Florida, St. Thomas, Hampton, Kansas, Kansas State and Stanford.
GopherHole: What are you hearing from the Gophers?
Ahjany Lee: They told me I was a very high priority for them. I’ve been on campus. They showed me everything. They said they are going to come at me hard. They really want to get the in-state kids and they feel that I could be a special one.
GopherHole: You were just down there for an unofficial visit. What all did you get a chance to see?
Ahjany Lee: I saw where the athletes live. Where they eat, like where all the sports programs go to eat. Saw one of their auxiliary gyms and I saw the weight room and training room. Basically, wherever the athletes go.
GopherHole: I know that you are being recruited during a weird time with COVID. Is it starting to get a little bit more normal now with things starting to open up?
Ahjany Lee: Yes. To be honest. I don’t really know what normal is, just because this is the only time I get to go through it, so to me, this is all normal. But, I did go through it with my sister. I was there for just about all of it. Definitely a lot different, but it is starting to look more like it was for her.
GopherHole: She (Ayoka Lee, who averaged 19.1 points per game this past season) is down at Kansas State and they are one of the schools that has offered you. Have you thought about what it would be like to play at the same place as her?
Ahjany Lee: I’ve thought about it since I was a freshman. I thought it would be cool because my sister and I are really close. It would just be cool to be able to see her every day. They practice in the same building, so we could go to practice and get lunch whenever we want. It would be really nice.
GopherHole: Your mom also lives in Kansas. Would it be nice to be a little closer to her as well?
Ahjany Lee: Yes.
GopherHole: When you pick a school, what at are going to be the main factors that make you pick School A over School B or C?
Ahjany Lee: Just fit. I know from my sister, the biggest thing was making sure that she felt that she was at home, even though she was away from home. The coaches have to be good. I can’t really say right now, if a coach is bad or not. I’m waiting to meet them in person and the biggest thing is just fit.
GopherHole: Does that help that she has been through it and she can give you some tips and what you observed from her?
Ahjany Lee: Yes.
GopherHole: You are playing for the D1 Minnesota Prospects team. I know that some people thought that you would try to play on their top team. Was there a reason that you decided to not do that?
Ahjany Lee: Last year, I played with the Prospects and the coaches really helped me out. My shot, I can’t really say that it would be where it is now without them. Skill development is very good on their team. I can’t say that it’s not good on the other team, but I just knew it would be good on this team, so I felt like it would be best for me to stick with the coaches I know.
GopherHole: So, there was kind of a comfort level with those coaches?
Ahjany Lee: Yes.
GopherHole: How do you think that you have done so far this spring?
Ahjany Lee: I definitely feel like I could be doing better. Obviously, it is a weird time, but that’s no excuse. Like I said before, it’s really just a consistency factor for me.
GopherHole: Where all are you playing in July? Do you know yet?
Ahjany Lee: We are going to Alabama, Indianapolis and Dallas.
GopherHole: You don’t always get to play against guys your size at your high school. How much do you think that helps you playing at a high level against kids that are as big as you or even bigger in AAU ball?
Ahjany Lee: I think it helps me the most out of everything I do, just because when I get to the next level, everyone is going to look like me, so I have to get used to it now and the fact that I get to play against them even just sometimes, not all the time, helps a large amount.
GopherHole: What is it going to mean to you to step on that court your first game as a freshman at a Division I school?
Ahjany Lee: For me, I’m just expecting to be the bottom of the food chain. Everyone’s going to think “Oh, he’s coming to take my spot.” For me, it’s “Yes, I am coming to take your spot and I’m going to work my hardest to do it.”