Lee calls pregame ceremony 'surreal' - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Lee calls pregame ceremony 'surreal'

University of Louisville fifth-year graduate transfer Damion Lee missed Saturday's game against Boston College due to injury, but he still tossed a ceremonial jump ball. (Source: WAVE 3 News) University of Louisville fifth-year graduate transfer Damion Lee missed Saturday's game against Boston College due to injury, but he still tossed a ceremonial jump ball. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Damion Lee prepares to toss up the ceremonial jump ball against Boston College. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Damion Lee prepares to toss up the ceremonial jump ball against Boston College. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Damion Lee returns to the bench after the ceremonial jump ball. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Damion Lee returns to the bench after the ceremonial jump ball. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Damion Lee did two unexpected things Saturday.   

Number one, the fifth-year graduate transfer didn't play in the University of Louisville men's basketball team's game against Boston College. 

Number two, he tossed up a ceremonial jump-ball to start the game.   

Lee, the Cardinals' leading scorer (17.3 points per game), sat out UofL's Atlantic Coast Conference contest at the KFC Yum! Center due to a minor knee injury. That was just one day after he, and fellow grad transfer Trey Lewis, learned that they only had nine games left in their college careers because UofL announced it was self-imposing a postseason-play ban on the team due to uncovered, but undisclosed violations. 

[RELATED STORY: Pitino: Don't blame Ramsey]

UofL coach Rick Pitino figured that Lewis would get a rousing ovation when he was introduced as a starter for the Cards. However, he also wanted fans to have a chance to show Lee some love too. So, as he often does during games, Pitino drew up a play on the fly. 

"Honestly, I thought of it in  five seconds," Pitino said. "(Sports information director) Kenny (Klein) was trying to come up with ideas to do (something) to honor him and the first 23 I didn't like so I just came up with that spontaneously." 

Lee, like Lewis, was adamant about his love for Louisville, the university and the team's fans when he addressed the media Friday evening at the squad's practice facility. 

"There's no other place in the world that we would rather go, no other school in the country that we would rather go to, no other coach, no other team we would rather play for or play with," Lee, who transferred to UofL from Drexel, said Friday evening. 

[RELATED STORY: Careers of UofL's Lee and Lewis will end earlier than expected]

Saturday, Cards fans got their chance to show their appreciation for Lee. They gave him a huge ovation as he came out to toss a ceremonial jump before the game began. 

"It was surreal," Lee said afterward. "Knowing, going into the game, that I wasn't going to play and knowing just how much emotion the entire city and how much emotion the whole Yum! Center was going to be filled with, (and) embracing it all really shows how much of an impact Trey and I have on this city and on this team." 

Lee, who said he didn't feel "a hundred percent" Saturday, hopes to be ready for Monday night's game at Duke. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at famed Cameron Indoor Stadium. 

"It'll be my first time playing there, so I definitely can sort of look at this as kind of a mini-farewell tour," Lee said. "I was joking with Trey about it, (likening it to) the whole Kobe (Bryant) farewell tour."

Copyright 2016 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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