Times Chronicle & Public Spirit
Anthony Lee gets first real shot
At pro basketball with Reading Rebels
Like many members of the Reading Rebels basketball team, Kutztown University and Abington High School grad Anthony Lee is trying to find a work-life balance while attempting to pave his way to a career in professional basketball. Unlike some of his teammates, playing for the Rebels is Lee’s first true opportunity in basketball since being the 2018-19 Golden Bears’ men’s hoops MVP and their Male Senior Athlete of the Year.
“I didn’t even have a full season yet (since college) so I’m trying to get started here,” Lee said.
A 6-2 guard, Lee was selected in the second round of the 2019 NBA G League draft by the Grand Rapids Drive, but he did not appear in a game for the Detroit Pistons’ affiliate. In 2020, the Abington High grad agreed to a deal with Hamar of the Icelandic Basketball Association, but only played in one game, scoring 27 points in 34 minutes, before the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“So my next shot was here,” Lee said of playing for Reading’s team in The Basketball League. “I went to West Chester (University) for the tryout, they invited me to training camp and here we are.”
Now back playing in front of a familiar community and working on the side, Lee finds himself adjusting to the real-world responsibilities being presented to him while on his basketball journey.
“I work at a packaging company, too, just on the side,” Lee said. “So there’s two days of practice, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I do those and then Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I try to get in the extra money.
“It’s definitely different than college. Like, yeah, we had to go to class and sit down, but being at work is actually a good work
out for me. It’s not like I’m losing out on working out or anything because I’m lifting so it’s not really a bad transition.”
At Kutztown, Lee was wellknown for his 3-point shooting and holds several school shooting records, including points in a game (50) and season (822), scoring average for a season (27.4 points per game), 3-pointers made in a game (8), season (92) and career (275), 3-point percentage in a season (.516) and career (.468), and free throw percentage in a season (90.1).
Lee is making 48.7% of his shots and averaging 8.2 points per game through 12 games with the Rebels, according to thebasketballleague.net. A consistently accurate shooter, Lee is making 39.4% on 3-pointers and 91.7% on free throws.
And while shooting from behind the arc is a major component of his game, Lee expressed that he is trying to grow into a more dynamic player.
“The 3-pointer is my first go to but as you saw today I didn’t shoot that many 3s,” Lee said after the Rebels’ recent 101-94 win over the TriState Admirals. “I was just taking what the defense was giving to me. So if they saw that I could shoot and was going up, I would attack the lane. Do whatever to win, that’s my game.”
The Rebels (6-8), who host the Syracuse Stallions Friday at the Geigle, still are trying to find their groove and Lee said he believes the team is close to reaching its full potential.
“In the beginning we were all back and forth,” Lee said. “Like we get leads and lose leads, but we got to learn how to get the lead and keep it going. We still have yet to blow out a team, so we just have to keep our consistency and stop the runs from the other teams.”
In the win against TriState, Reading let a lead as large as 21 slip away before tightening its defense and outscoring the Admirals 2717 in the fourth quarter.
Lee explained that head coach Snip Esterly, also the boys coach at Berks Catholic, helps Reading regain its focus during tough spots.
“He’s positive every time; he’s always positive,” Lee said. “If you do something bad on defense, he tells us to keep our head up. He doesn’t show bad body language or anything and he’s always just trying to get as ready for the next play.”
Reading is in seventh place out of nine in the TBL Northeast Division and will need to string together wins down the stretch to make the playoffs. With nine games left, it’s a goal that Lee said he believes the team can achieve if its owns its hometown underdog mentality.
“Our goal right now is to keep winning out the whole season so we can make the playoffs,” Lee said. “We’ve just got to keep playing like dogs; that’s how we won at the end (against Tri-State). When everybody’s hustling, winning 50/50 balls, that’s what we have to do at the end of games to close every team out.”