Iowa Basketball has a knack for identifying talent before many of its peers. It was one of the reasons it ended up landing all-American Luka Garza.
The Hawkeyes hit on another under-the-radar prospect they believe can help their program. They extended the first scholarship offer to Byron (MN) Senior High forward Ahjany Lee earlier this month.
“For Iowa to be my first offer, it really made me feel like my hard work was starting to pay off, and for my first to be such a high level it made me feel like my dream was finally coming true,” he told HN.
The 6-foot-9, 200-pound junior is ranked as a three-star recruit, the ninth best player in Minnesota for the 2022 recruiting class and the No. 51 power forward nationally in the cycle by 247. His sister, Ayoka Lee, is a 6-6 center at Kansas State who was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and a first-team all-conference pick last winter.
The Wildcats are well supported in Manhattan. Ahjany recognizes the same backing from the Hawkeye faithful.
“Once I got the offer, I learned that the University of Iowa has a fan base full of loyal fans who love their college sports,” he said.
Lee, who runs with D1 Minnesota on the AAU circuit, sees Iowa’s system of play as a good fit for his game.
“I know that the coaches believe in a style of play where players are allowed to play freely and because of this they have the opportunity to continue to get better at the next level. This is one thing that I strongly like about the coaching staff,” he said.
Lee has been developing his game as a face-up forward. His skills are advancing rapidly.
“I have worked very hard to be able to play at all three levels – The post, midrange, and three-point range. I’ve also worked very hard on my ball handling and passing. I feel with my attributes and versatility I am able to play in any type of offensive system, but my favorite would be five out,” he said.
He didn’t grow up dreaming up playing at the next level like a lot of high-end recruits.
“I didn’t become very interested in college basketball until my freshman year of high school. I loved watching K-State mainly because my sister plays there and I was exposed to them first, But when I was younger, I grew up around a very large amount of Hawkeye fans, so I’ve always enjoyed watching them,” Lee said.
Like prospects across the country, he has seen his recruitment impacted by the pandemic. A dead period that started in mid-March has been extended through September. It prohibited in-person contact with college coaches and campus visits.
“I’m approaching my recruiting in a very cautious and patient way. With COVID-19, many rules have been changing so I try to make sure I’m always on top of them and ask questions so I know what I can and can’t do. In the end, I’d just like to have my pick of some of the top programs in the country, athletically but also academically. As much as I love basketball, I won’t have it forever, but I will have an education forever,” Lee said.