‘I’m staying another year’: K-State women’s hoops star Ayoka Lee says WNBA can wait

·3 min read
Karl B. DeBlaker/AP

Ayoka Lee seems to have a future in the WNBA whenever her time with the Kansas State women’s basketball team comes to an end.

Will that be later this year after she puts the finishing touches on an already sensational junior campaign with the Wildcats? Or will pro basketball have to wait until after she returns to school for her senior season in Manhattan?

Many have wondered about Lee’s future since the junior center scored a NCAA record 61 points during a 94-65 victory against Oklahoma over the weekend. But that speculation can end. Lee isn’t afraid to share her plans.

“I’m staying another year,” Lee said during a video conference with reporters Tuesday morning. “I really love what I’m doing for school. I want to finish my education. I love that program. That’s the plan right now.”

Lee, a 6-foot-6 scoring machine from Byron, Minnesota, has already earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and is currently pursing her master’s degree in couple and family therapy.

She is eligible to enter the WNBA Draft later this year, because she sat out her first season of college basketball with a redshirt while she recovered from a knee injury.

That gives her options. But she is no hurry to leave K-State.

“Just growing up, my mom made a really big emphasis on how sports aren’t going to last forever,” Lee said. “YOu need to have something else, because it can be taken from you at any moment. That’s just kind of what I have found here in school and the master’s program I’m in. I just love it. It’s definitely something I want to do after sports are done, whenever that is.”

If Lee follows through and returns to K-State for her senior year, that would come as excellent news for coach Jeff Mittie and the entire Wildcats women’s basketball team.

Lee has become a national player of the year candidate for the Wildcats. Not just because of her monster game against the Sooners. She also scored 43 points earlier this season against Central Arkansas and dropped 38 on Iowa State.

She is averaging 25.5 points and 10.9 rebounds.

National experts have praised her continuously since her record game against Oklahoma. Tributes from all over the country have come pouring in, and the jersey she wore on Sunday is heading to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

It all became so much that she had to turn her phone off for a few hours on Monday. She doesn’t have a favorite congratulatory message, but she has enjoyed seeing her teammates post some entertaining graphics on social media.

She is trying to soak it all in. It hasn’t been easy, though.

“It’s really crazy to think about and wrap my mind around it,” Lee said. “To think that I can break all these national records, that was never the thought for me. It’s just an honor and a blessing.”

Lee hopes she can build off her record-setting game when the Wildcats return to the court for their next game against Texas. But she isn’t thinking about topping 61 points just yet. There is no rush. If she stays at K-State for another year, she will have plenty of opportunities for more monster games.

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