Saben Lee was considered one of Tempe Corona del Sol’s best defenders last season when the Aztecs won 33 games and fourth consecutive big-schools boys basketball state championship.
But he was hidden behind so many Division I athletes — count them, there were six on the team — that Lee’s name never got mentioned in the same breath with Marvin Bagley III, Alex Barcello, Dane Kuiper, Cassius Peat and Tyrell Henderson.
After recovering from a hip injury that nagged him last season, the 6-foot-1 junior point guard’s stock has risen dramatically after last week’s first evaluation showcase, playing for Arizona Power Black at the Double Pump tournament, where he picked up six offers.
He picked up a seventh scholarship offer on Monday from the University of San Diego. On the same day, Lee heard from Santa Clara, Montana, Pepperdine, Montana State and Rice.
It’s a matter of time, it seems, before Lee gets his first Pac-12 offer.
John Ortega, a coach for Power Academy, said he believes Lee, with improved shooting, could be a Pac-12-caliber player.
“His athletic ability and confidence is already there,” he said.
Ortega said schools have been impressed by Lee’s court IQ and ability to change speeds and get to the basket.
“He gets people easy baskets off his penetration, and is almost unstoppable in transition,” Ortega said. “He’s also long defensively and creates havoc on and off the ball”
Lee will lead Power Black again this week in Anaheim in the Double Pump Best of Summer, with more offers likely to come.
Last week, Lee got his first offers. They came from Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado, Weber State, Portland State, Portland.
Four D.I players
– Corona del Sol will have four players with Division I college basketball offers next season.
The two biggest are 6-foot-11 sophomore forward Marvin Bagley (21 offers) and 6-2 junior point guard Barcello (16 offers).
Bagley, playing in the Nike EYBL Peach Jam U16 tournament last week in South Carolina, picked up five offers just in the past three days: Western Kentucky, Louisville, Tennessee, California, Texas Southern.
As of now, Bagley is not scheduled to play in any more July showcases, according to his dad, Marvin Jr.
Henderson, a senior guard, in the spring committed to Portland State.
Peat is now at Michigan State, getting ready for his first college football season as a linebacker. Kuiper is at New Mexico getting ready for his first college basketball season.
Super 10 Arizona high school basketball rankings: