Damion Lee is very good player for the Louisville Cardinals.
That was evident Tuesday night during the Cards' scrimmage with the Puerto Rico National Team. Lee, a fifth-year transfer from Drexel, hit 11 of his 18 shots from the field, including 5 of 10 three-pointers, and finished with 36 points in an 88-81 loss. He also had two steals, two assists and one rebound.
During his final season at Drexel, Lee averaged 21.4 points a game with 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals a game and shot 38.5% from three-point range.
While those are some gaudy numbers, it still should not have possessed Cardinals head man and former Kentucky Wildcats coach Rick Pitino to say the following:
"You know, he's a little bit better version of Ron Mercer, because he can put it on the floor. Ron was terrific. He's such a quick slasher in and out. He can run pick and rolls better than Ron."
Mercer, in case Rick forgot, was the SEC Player of the Year, a consensus first-team All-American, and an NCAA champion in 1997 before going on to be the No. 6 pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. It was Rick himself, then the Boston Celtics head coach, who took Mercer there.
Mercer finished his 10-year NBA career having averaged 13.6 points, 2.1 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. At the height of his game, Mercer averaged 19.7 points, 3.3 assists, and 3.9 boards per game during the 2000-01 NBA season with the Chicago Bulls. He also had five NBA seasons in which he averaged at least 15 points per game.
Lee is a very good player who may go on to have a productive NBA career as well. To already call him a better player than an all-time great at UK is a bit over the top though, but we know Rick has become accustomed to such statements.