North Carolina Newspapers is powered by Chronam.
-By CRAIG T7QREENLEE
Review Staff Writer
When you've led the nation in scoring
e .1 -
lur mree consecuuve seasons, it seems reasonable
that your chances of being drafted
by an NBA team are pretty decent
It didn't quite turn out that way for
Ernest Lee of Clark College. Of the 161
players selected in last month's NBA Draft,
Lee's name never came up.
Strange? Extremely. Sounds like a vintage
scenes from "The Twilight Zone."
Lee ended his final college season with
a career total of 3,298 points, vaulting him
into fourth place on the NCAA's all-time
scoring list Only three players have scored
more as collegians - Travis Grant, Kentucky
State, 4,045 points; Bob Hopkins, Grambling
State, 3,579 points; and Pete Mar-?
avich, LSU, 3,667 points.
Besides that, Lee is only third player in
the history of college hoops to have led the
nation in scoring for three straight years in
any division. Oscar Robertson, University
of Cincinnati, did it from 1958-60 and Maravich
pulled it off from 1968-70. In late
January, lee reached the 3,000 points in a
career milestone^ making him the first player
in 15 years to do so.
Realisticallv. nnhodv ftvp.r
Lee to go in the first or second round of the
draft. Guys from black colleges normally
just don't go that high. Charles Oakley, formerly
of Virginia Union, and now with the
Chicago bulls, was an excepdon. Nevertheless,
you'd be hard pressed to find anyone
who believed that Lee would be completely
overlooked in the draft.
At 6'3", 210, Lee has a pro body.
There's guard type quickness emblazoned
in an NFL type physique. On the Clark
campus, he's known as "the Horse."
Before the season began, Lee wasn't an
obscure player on the college basketball
scene. He was a pre-season All-America
selection for Street & Smith's. There was
also a picture of him in sports Blustrated's
college basketball preview issue.
"I thou ah mv stats were aood enouah -
# w w
for me to be drafted," Lee says. "I thought
that the 3,000 points was at least good
enough for me to go in the late rounds at
"Naturally I was a little disappointed.
It seems that every year (in the draft),
there's always someone that things just
rinn't gr? right far. I gijess I was the one this
time, but I know that the scouts didn't really
see my entire game."
Marty Blake, director of NBA scouting
has seen Lee in action and feels that the
Gark gunner had sufficient skills to warrant
some serious looks by NBA teams. "He has
some shooting skills and has deceptive
quickness," Blake says. But...... Lee has
some glaring deficiencies, according to
MM ?_ _ J . .
nisuce. rve never seen nun guara anyooay
and he doesn't play hard"
Lee is the first to confirm that his
defense needs improving. But the lack of
>ks past Clai
* ' '*; "
??? / ^ I
K. j mWBIKI
Ernest Lee is out to prove that he betof
Craig T. Greenlee).
intensity label leaves him puzzled "I don't
know about that, "Lee responds. "I thought
I was pretty consistent most of the time all
Blake acknowledges that he believed
Lee would be drafted, but adds that he will
get a shot with some pro team as a free
agent Would he be surprised if he made an
NBA roster?"Not at all," he replies.
-Aside from ballhandling and defense, _
Blake feels the biggest question mark surrounding
Lee is that scouts didn't see him
as a guard during his career at Clark.
Guard is Lee's natural position. He
played the point at John F. Kennedy High
4 School in Sacramento, Calif. And was an
All-American, averaging 25 points and 12
assists a game. Lee is still a legend in
Sacramento, having been recruited by the
University of Washington where he was
destined to be a starter as a freshman.
Only grades prevented Lee form getting
more of the media limelight in the
R\C-10. But because of a mix-un in his
grades, Lee was never able to play Division
I ball. He left the Washington campus
and eventually wound up in Atlanta two
years later with his mother, Delia Lee.
Because Lee played small forward for
Dark, he never got the opportunity to play
his most suitable position. And these days,
, . . .-M,
Ife a .^^r imMn
tgs with the best in the NBA (photo by '
you don't have any 6'3H forwards in the
NBA. Given that situation, how does one
project him as a pro? Certainly not at small
forward, and certainly not as a guard when
you've never seen him as a guard.
The Horse" demonstrated what he's
capable of at the guard slot in a Pizza Hut
series that pitted Georgia's collegiate stars
against a national team of collegians. Lee
rnmro/4 hie a?ma nn c/./\rinn 01 MA.n^n ? ? ?
hm gwuK >tyt gwuig pvnma aa> a
point guard an copping MVP honors. And
the competition? Only a number of "name"
players that were drafted by NBA teams Steve
Alford (Indiana), Horace Grant
(Clemson), Tommy Amaker (Duke), and
Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues (Waked Forest).
Lee's Pizza Hut performance confirmed
his inner feelings. "I knew I could
time and I felt a lot more comfortable. I
didn't have to shoot a lot of jumpers
because I was able to drive the lane at will.
But I also know that 111 have to concentrate
a lot more on defense."
Not being drafted could work in Lee's
favor. As a free agent, he can choose his
own team. That way, he can go to a team
uuu needs ms stalls. Had tie been drafted
by a team that really had no room for him,
Lee would have been wasting his time,
with no-cut contracts and established play
m?mmmmm Black College Sports Review
~ en, it's difficult for any rookie to break in,
especially if you play the same position as
an established veteran player.
For example, the^e were sentiments
. around Atlanta that the Hawks should've
drafted Lee as a "public relations gesture."
Since Clark College is about a mile from
the Omni where the Hawks play, the idea seemed
feasible. But that's only until one
^ - ? ? ? - -
iooks at rcauty. rne Hawks are stacked at
guard and it will be very difficult for any
new guard to make that team, especially
since Atlanta is one of the up and coming
Several NBA teams have expressed an
interest in "the Horse" from Clark, but the
teams most often mentioned are the
Phoenix Suns and the Sacramento Kings.
Lee isn't committing himself anywhere
for the time being. There's a pro summer
league in California that he'll be competing
in "to show what I can do." The California
league is no rest period, some of the top
pros have played in this league for this past
rA... ? n < ? ^
i?w ytttis uictuUlllg DyiUIl 3COII ILAIters;,
Isiah Johnson (Pistons) and dominiquc
Wilkins (Hawks), and there are more, so
Lee will get ample chance and you get the
feeling that more than a few eyes will be
If "the Horse" chooses to attend a
Sacramento rookie camp, it will be a true
homecoming. As a matter of fact, it's even
money as to which city is more upset over
Lee not being being drafted, Sacramento or
Whether Lee survives someone's NBA
training camp cuts is yet to be answered.
Still, he's determined that he will get his
legitimate shot, even if it means playing in
the CBA. It makes sense that the CBA
could be the best place for Lee if he's cut
by the NBA.
Lee senses that his career could take a
path in that direction. Not that he doesn't
have the talent to play with the pros. But he
may need more than a few months to dust
the moth balls off his guard play to get
ready for big time roundball. In the CBA,
nobody can question the leveled of compe
tition and scouts can get a closer look at
how he handles playing guard. **
HI wouldn't mind playing in the CBA,"
Lee says matter of factly. "I'll be around
some quality players day in and day out I'll
be handling the ball and making decisions
at either guard spot
All along, "the House" knew he'd have
to get back to the guard position. He's hon
ing his"skills now for that task. He's preparing
the accept the challenge for NBA rookie
camp in October.
"I don't feel it's the end (of basketball)
for me," he points out "As for what happened
in the draft Tm not bitter. I know - ~
there's a lesson in this all of this somewhere.
I'm still looking for that lesson."
Craig T. Greenlee is an Atlanta-based freelance
writer who is a frequent contributor to
SS5SS55555S5SEESS August 1967 - Page 11
* '? i I ? i v ? i i > ? 4 ?