Maia Lee’s consistent play has McLean off to undefeated start

January 2

When she committed to Old Dominion in August, the pressures of performing like a Division 1 athlete instantly set in for McLean forward Maia Lee.

College coaches loved her for her upside and 6-foot-3 frame. But while she was ranked No. 22 at the forward position in the nation according to ESPN, but she had yet to show consistent high-level offensive play.

Lee has adjusted to being the Highlanders go-to scorer this season, and is averaging 15 points per game for a McLean (9-0) team that is off to its best start in over a decade. She’s doubled her 7.5 points per game average last season through nine games.

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Most recently, McLean won three games in as many days at the 2013 Pohanka Chantilly Classic. Lee averaged 17.3 points per game in the tournament and scored a career-high 20 points in a Dec. 27 win over Robinson. It was the Highlanders second straight classic title.

“Her teammates are making her realize how important she really is,” Highlanders Coach Jenny Sobota said. “When she’s scoring and playing hard we play well and she’s realizing that and stepping in as the focal point.”

McLean loves to run up and down the floor, making Lee a beneficiary of lots of transition baskets. She runs the floor well and is strong and unafraid when it comes to rebounding in traffic.

Lee says her ball handling has improved the most though, after a summer circuit run with Team Takeover’s first girls’ squad. She was forced to play more away from the basket as five girls on the roster were 6-foot or taller.

“Last year I never dribbled the ball,” Lee said. “I wanted to work on my weaknesses this summer, and I wanted to separate myself from other players before I got to ODU.”

After giving her oral commitment in August, Lee signed her National Letter-of-Intent to join the Monarchs’ basketball program in November. She plans to major in biology, one of the school’s best programs, with the intention of becoming a physical therapist upon her graduation.

“It was a tough decision between ODU and College of Charleston,” Lee said. “But I wanted to stay close to home and I loved Old Dominion’s campus and the biology major.”

The Highlanders made a run to the Liberty District final last season before falling to Madison by two points, and followed that with a loss to Oakton in the AAA Northern Region first round.

Behind Lee’s outstanding offensive play and the six other experienced seniors McLean should be in contention to play for the 6A Conference 6 title.

“We can definitely continue this play we have with the way that we fast break,” Lee said. “We just have to keep up our conditioning up.”

NUMBER CRUNCH: 6

The number of Washington D.C. area players that have signed or orally committed to Division 1 universities on Team Takeover’s first U-16 girl’s team. Bullis forward Lynee Belton (Duke), Paul VI forward Ariana Freeman (Louisville), Episcopal forward Rennie Harrison (Richmond), Riverdale Baptist forward Khalia Prather (Miami), Yorktown’s Mikayla Venson (Virginia) and Lee.

BREAKFAST LINKS

– The year 2013 was an outstanding one for sports in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. We took a look at some of the most memorable stories.

– Former WCAC standouts St. John’s defensive back Denzel Dykes and DeMatha quarterback John Lovett made their college commitments to William & Mary and Princeton, respectively.

– The Under Armour All-America Game kicks off today and five area seniors will display their talents on the national stage.

– Friendship Collegiate defensive back Jalen Tabor will make his college decision today at the Under Armour game between Arizona and Alabama. Check our AllMetSports homepage for the latest updates.

VIDEO OF THE DAY

DeMatha basketball sophomore Joe Hampton‘s determined effort to trim some pounds and move his game from the post to the perimeter and is showing early in the season.

WHAT TO WATCH

Paul VI, the area’s top-ranked boys’ basketball team, is back in Fairfax after a runner-up finish at the City of Palms Classic and will face WCAC foe Gonzaga at 7:30 p.m. at home.

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Brandon Parker | December 31, 2013