By SHEL SEGAL
LOS ANGELES – Former Keppel girls basketball standout Samantha Lee recently wondered aloud how she managed to have such a stellar career – both in high school and at Cal State Los Angeles, where she played all four years for the Golden Eagles and recently graduated with a degree in accounting.
Lee said not only did she play for three different coaches for the Aztecs before graduating in 2013, the scenario repeated itself at the collegiate level.
“I feel like it’s been difficult because I had three coaching changes,” said Lee, a longtime Monterey Park resident. “I had to adapt to all three of them. All three of them had different styles of coaching.”
But did that make her a better player on the court? Lee said “definitely.”
“I feel I definitely improved over the last eight years,” she said. “Every coach tells me to improve on something, like shooting, even though that’s all I do on the court. So, I extended my range. Defensively, I’ve gotten faster.”
And having to adapt to different styles has paid of beyond the court, Lee said.
“Every coach has their own different way of coaching,” she said. “So, I learned their style and it just helped me in the game. Watching film, too, has improved what I do on the court.”
But the most difficult thing in college for Lee was trying to find time to study, practice and have a little time to herself.
“On the studying side, you just got to learn to balance it out,” she said. “In the morning you would go to class first and in the afternoon you would practice (basketball). Then, you would go home and study a little bit.”
So, what’s up next for Lee? She said it is not working as an accountant as her degree would imply.
“I would like to actually work overseas,” she said. “I’m bilingual in Cantonese and I feel like an opportunity I could get is in Hong Kong.”
When asked to describe how Lee was to have play for her, Cal State L.A. coach Cheryl Miller could only answer “wow.”
Miller added as she only coached Lee for one year – and there was a bit of transition for the senior – she is absolutely a natural on the court.
“She started out a little uncomfortable, because, obviously, it was going to be a new system,” Miller said. “She has had to re-learn a lot of things and we definitely had to instill some principles that we wanted our players to play by. But I’d say probably the fourth or fifth game into the season (other teams) had to start scouting her. No doubt in my mind she is the best 3-point shooter I’ve ever coached. Singlehandedly, she brought us out of big deficits, won games for us, just gave us everything.”
Miller also said her only regret was having Lee play for her for just one year as she would have liked more than with her.
“I would have loved to have coached her for more than just one season, but the season the season that I had with her was incredible,” Miller said. “She’s intelligent, she’s funny, she’s witty. She’s a delight to be around.”