Wendel Lee makes Oxford College his new basketball home
COVINGTON, Ga. — The successes of the Newton basketball program have once again become the subject of the local high school basketball scene, as Wendel Lee signed a letter of intent to play at Oxford College this past Sunday at Springfield Baptist Church.
The signing completes a historic feat for the Newton Rams, in which all seven of their seniors are heading off to play collegiate sports, according to head coach Rick Rasmussen.
Rasmussen couldn’t say enough about Lee’s work ethic.
“I’m so proud of Wendel for all his hard work and commitment to academics and basketball the last four years,” Rasmussen said. “His incredible selflessness and character have been a valuable asset to our program and our success. We are so proud of the way he has represented Newton Basketball and Newton High School in his career.”
According to Lee, the relationship between him and Oxford started in January.
“Coach (Roderick) Stubbs attended one of my games and talked to me and my father about the opportunity of attending Oxford and playing on the team,” Lee said.
While attending some home games to check out the caliber of play at Oxford, Lee said that the coaches made him feel like he could contribute to the team, as well as get a quality education.
Despite having other schools on his radar, Lee chose Oxford mostly for off-the-court reasons.
“Oxford was my first choice because of what they offer academically,” he said. “Oxford emphasizes scholarship, research and service. In addition, I have the advantage of being a part of a diverse community close to home.”
As a Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar, Lee will get the benefits of Oxford with a full tuition scholarship, which is an opportunity “he could not pass up.”
The journey to this next chapter of his life is one Lee is very grateful for.
“Playing high school basketball was a good experience,” he said. “I got the chance to play with some of the best talent in the state.”
Although he noted that there were ups and downs during his time on the Rams court, being able to go up against his teammates like J.D. Notae, Ashton Hagans, Darvin Jones and Isaiah Miller on a daily basis helped him become a tougher competitor. “In the game of basketball, it’s 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical,” Lee said. “Playing for Newton helped me with game situations and helped me become more of a student of the game.”
Being one of the seven seniors on the team to continue an athletic career on the next level is a surreal moment for Lee, who although not a starter for Newton, is getting an opportunity many starters at other schools don’t get.
“Being one of the seven seniors to play at the collegiate level makes me feel that my hard work has paid off,” Lee said. “I can remember talking to my brother, Josh Tukes, about moments like this, and now it’s here.”
This opportunity is one Lee is looking forward to, and he already has a day-one game plan for when he steps foot onto the Oxford basketball court for the first time.
“I’m just looking forward to competing and getting better as a player and a teammate,” he said. “I’m ready to come in and do whatever I need to do to help this program reach its goals.”