Drexel University men’s basketball head coach James “Bruiser” Flint commented on former player Damion Lee’s decision to transfer from Drexel in an ESPN story published May 6.
The comments were the first time Flint publicly addressed Lee’s decision since the graduating senior announced he would play his final year of college basketball at the University of Louisville.
The Triangle requested an interview with Flint three times since Lee’s decision was made, but the head coach was never made available for comment by the athletic department.
The story, written by ESPN senior writer and college basketball columnist Dana O’Neil, discussed the current trend in college basketball of graduate students transferring to greener pastures in their final year of NCAA eligibility.
Lee, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament early in the 2013-2014 season, has one year of athletic eligibility remaining despite his four years of schooling at Drexel.
There had been rumblings and rumors of Lee potentially leaving University City for a high-major program at season’s end as early as late January.
Flint said in the ESPN story that opposing coaches began calling him and asking about Lee’s availability after Lee told him he would be transferring the weekend of March 30.
“I got coaches calling, ‘Hey do you think we have a shot with him?’ I’m like, ‘Man I don’t want to help you out.’ This is a guy who was going to be really good for me. Not just good, but really good,” Flint told O’Neil. “I get it. Coaches are doing what they do, but I’m not going to be like, ‘Yeah, let me help you take my guy.’”
Lee said that Flint had taken his decision hard in an interview with The Triangle on the day the news of his transfer broke. Lee said he understood why Flint and the coaches were struggling with his decision, but it was his choice to make.
In the ESPN story, Flint didn’t do anything to quell the view that he was irked by Lee’s decision to leave the program.
“I know if it were me and my family, they’d be saying get your butt back to Drexel,” Flint told O’Neil. “You’ve exceeded your expectations because of what they helped you become. You don’t leave now.
“The thing is, you develop a kid and all of a sudden he’s going somewhere else,” Flint explained to O’Neil. “He wants to go to play at a higher level, but he went to Drexel for a reason — because he wasn’t recruited at that level. He wasn’t a player at that level. Now he is, but we helped him get there and now that he is, he’s out.”
Flint said in the story that “we all know this isn’t about getting a degree,” and in Lee’s case, he’s ostensibly correct. While Lee will be a graduate student at Louisville, the impetus for his transfer is basketball driven. Lee believes that Louisville, not Drexel, gives him the best chance to take the next step after graduation.