By Joe Henricksen
Illinois State coach Dan Muller has been on the job for just a few months, but he landed his first big Chicago area recruit -- Proviso East's Paris Lee. The jet-quick 5-9 point guard committed to Muller and the Redbirds on Sunday evening.
Lee, who has been a Hoops Report favorite over the past year and is currently among the top 20 prospects in a talented Class of 2013, has seen his recruiting interest pick up the last two weeks after entering July with just two offers. But he didn't need to wait and see who else would get involved after getting to know the ISU staff and visiting the campus in June.
"First, I'm a big fan of the Missouri Valley Conference," said Lee, who helped lead the Pirates to a second place finish in 4A last season and a 32-1 record. "When I went on my visit, it couldn't have gone any better. Coach Muller showed me everything I was looking for in a program and in a school."
Lee also credited assistant coach Dana Ford, who Lee says "did a great job recruiting me."
"Everyone at ISU made me feel so welcome," says Lee, who averaged 12 points a game and knocked down 57 three-pointers last season. "I was just feeling ISU. It's close to home, yet it's far enough to let me grow up."
Illinois State was certainly in need of a point guard. Star freshman Nic Moore left the program this past spring and followed former head coach, Tim Jankovich, to SMU. The projected ISU starter at point guard, Anthony Cousin, will be a senior this season.
Muller and his staff were scouring the country for a point guard in the Class of 2013, but Lee quickly became their top priority at the position. He brings a dynamic personality and leadership traits that can't be underestimated. Lee is an energizer and catalyst.
As a player, Lee may be on the small side at 5-9, but he has the ability to constantly put pressure on opposing teams at both ends of the floor. He harasses opposing point guards with steals, deflections and being an overall nuisance with his speed and quickness.
While playing off the ball last year, Lee was a consistent threat from the perimeter. While knocking down 57 three-pointers, he shot well over 40 percent from beyond the arc and nearly 80 percent from the free-throw line. Now the ball will be in Lee's hands to run the show at point guard with the graduation of Saint Louis-bound Keith Carter, and he's been exceptional this summer in leading a loaded Pirates team that figures to be one of the top two or three teams in Illinois this coming season.
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