By Cameron Hurst @CameronNHurst
Although St. Bonaventure’s academic calendar officially concluded over a week ago, the men’s basketball team found itself in the news with two personnel additions.
Last Monday, Chuckie Maggio of The Olean Times Herald reported that Fairleigh Dickinson assistant coach Dwayne Lee will be joining Mark Schmidt’s staff for the 2017-18 season.
Lee has spent the last four seasons as a member of head coach Greg Herenda’s staff, serving as a key figure in helping the Knights earn a 2016 NEC championship and a trip to that year’s NCAA tournament, the first such appearance for the program in 11 years.
However, the new assistant may be more familiar to Bonnies fans from his playing career at Saint Joseph’s from 2002-06, playing 30 games as a sophomore on the 2003-04 team that earned an Elite Eight berth in the NCAA tournament. Following the departure of Player of the Year and eventual NBA All-Star guard, Jameer Nelson, Lee helped guide the Hawks to an NIT finals appearance and two Atlantic 10 tournament championship game appearances during his final two years. He also earned Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team honors during his junior season.
Prior to his time at Saint Joseph’s, Lee had the opportunity to play for legendary head coach Bob Hurley at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City. During Lee’s tenure, the Friars won two straight New Jersey State Tournament of Champions titles and a No. 2 National Ranking by USA Today.
It was also Hurley who convinced Lee to stay in school after tragedy struck his family during his freshman year at Saint Joseph’s. Lee, mourning the death of his mother, had contemplated leaving SJU to pursue a full-time job so as to support his younger siblings. Hurley, however, convinced him otherwise, noting that a college degree could benefit him and his family more in the long run.
“[Hurley] was definitely a shoulder to lean on at that rough time in my life,” Lee revealed in a feature published by the SJU athletic department in 2013. “He was there first as a coach and a friend. Then secondly, to offer his advice on what he thought would be the right route for me to go. I didn’t know which way I should go. It was hard for somebody at that age to know exactly what to do, especially given the circumstances with my two younger brothers.”
It is no secret that Hurley has played a huge role in the life of St. Bonaventure’s newest assistant coach, but it is the Hall of Fame coach who holds his former pupil in the highest of regards.
Upon being hired by Fairleigh Dickinson in 2013, Hurley praised the university’s hire, calling Lee “one of my favorite kids I have ever been associated with.”
Lee will replace former SBU assistant Jerome Robinson, who officially accepted an assistant coaching position at New Mexico, under fellow Canadian Paul Weir.
However, while St. Bonaventure loses Robinson, their chief presence in Canadian recruiting, they hold onto his parting gift — the verbal commitment of UNLV transfer Jalen Poyser.
Poyser, one of three notable transfers leaving Las Vegas, announced following the Rebels’ 11-21 season, that he’d look for a new program to call home. Aside from St. Bonaventure, Poyser generated interest from Texas, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Tulane, among others.
But, in the end, Poyser went with the choice closest to his home in Malton, Ontario which lies only 26 minutes from Toronto, where Robinson is from.
Poyser, in announcing his decision via Twitter, cited that his decision to attend Bonaventure remained as “the best decision” for him and his family and thanked Robinson specifically for helping him come to the decision.
During his sophomore campaign at UNLV, Poyser played in 31 games, averaging 10.4 points, while also averaging 27.1 minutes. He went 38-132 from beyond the arc and also averaged 2.7 rebounds.
He will be ineligible for the 2017-18 season, but in utilizing its final available scholarship, St. Bonaventure opted to plan for the future, similarly to the way they did in signing Matt Mobley to eventually replace Marcus Posley.