LEWISBURG, Pa. - Charles Lee, the 2006 Patriot League Player of the Year and one of the catalysts of Bucknell's 2005 and 2006 championship teams, is returning to his alma mater as an assistant men's basketball coach, it was announced Monday by head coach Dave Paulsen. Lee, who scored 1,147 points and earned the Christy Mathewson Award as the top athlete in the Class of 2006, was one of the final training camp cuts of the San Antonio Spurs before embarking on an outstanding playing career in Israel, Belgium and Germany.
At the time of his graduation, Lee ranked 21st on Bucknell's all-time scoring list, and he currently ranks 22nd. A 6-3 guard, Lee also ranks 20th on Bucknell's career rebounding chart with 568, making him one of only 17 players in program history to amass 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. He also ranks fifth in school history in steals with 167.
"I am so excited to welcome Charles Lee back to Bucknell in his new role as assistant men's basketball coach," said Paulsen. "Obviously Charles was a great player here and a terrific leader on the 2005 and 2006 squads that captured the nation's attention. I am very confident that Charles will take the same relentless work ethic and passion that defined his playing career and translate that to his growth as an excellent basketball coach. Charles' playing experience -- both here and professionally -- will help him in his on-court coaching with our current players. He will be able to speak from first-hand experience about the challenges and rewards of balancing the academic and athletic commitments involved in high level Division I basketball. And anyone who has ever met Charles knows that he has the 'it' factor that defines every successful coach. I think this is a 'slam dunk' addition to our staff and the Bucknell University community."
Lee co-captained the Bison in 2004-05 and 2005-06. In both seasons Bucknell won Patriot League championships and went on to capture first-round victories in the NCAA Tournament. Lee recorded 15 points and eight rebounds in Bucknell's historic upset of third-seeded Kansas in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. That was the first NCAA win in Bucknell and Patriot League history. In Lee's senior year, Bucknell won a school-record 27 games, became the first Patriot League team to go undefeated in league play in the regular season, and entered the national top-25 for the first time in program history. The Bison earned a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and led by a game-high 24 points from Lee, they knocked off Arkansas in the opening round.
Lee became the first player in league history to earn back-to-back Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player Awards. In addition to his 2006 Patriot League Player of the Year Award, he earned three All-Patriot League citations: second team honors as a sophomore and first team nods as a junior and senior. He was an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American in 2006, and that year he also captured the Benton A. Kribbs Award as the team's most outstanding player.
Following graduation with a degree in business management, the Gaithersburg, Md., native signed with the NBA's San Antonio Spurs. Lee played with the Spurs' summer league team in Salt Lake City and was invited to the team's primary training camp. He saw action in the Spurs' preseason games, including three on a tour of France, but was one of the team's final cuts just prior to the start of the regular season. The Spurs had a veteran roster in 2006-07 and went on to claim the NBA title.
Lee then signed with Gilboa Afula in the Israeli Premier League and averaged 9.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in his first professional season. He played for VOO Verviers-Pepinster in Belgium in 2007-08 before moving on to the German Bundesliga for two years. Lee played for MEG Goettingen in 2008-09, helping that upstart team to a playoff berth while averaging 13.4 points per game. His final pro stop came with the Artland Dragons in 2009-10.
Lee retired from professional basketball in 2010 and put his Bucknell degree to good use on Wall Street, working for for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He started in the company's global banking and markets rotational program, and most recently he has been serving as an equities trader.
"I am extremely excited and appreciative to have an opportunity to start my coaching career at my alma mater, which is so near and dear to my heart," said Lee. "Bucknell is a very special place for both my wife [2006 Bucknell graduate and former Bison women's basketball player Lindsey Geosits] and I, so when I was presented with an opportunity to join Coach Paulsen's staff, we were both thrilled. I have the upmost respect for what Coach Paulsen has achieved throughout his career, and I look forward to being able to work alongside him and the rest of the staff. My goal as a coach is to continue to be a student of the game in order to be a great teacher and mentor to the young talent that we have in our program. The Bucknell men's basketball program has an illustrious history, and as a staff, we will work extremely hard to make sure that success continues both on and off the court."
Lee will replace Michael Cotton on the Bucknell coaching staff. Cotton served as an assistant coach under Paulsen for the last four years. He recently resigned to accept another Division I assistant coach position, which will be announced soon.
"I want to thank Mike Cotton for four excellent years of service to Bucknell and our men's basketball program," said Paulsen. "Mike is a consummate professional who always represented himself and our program with the highest integrity. He made key contributions toward our Patriot League championships, and we wish him the best as he continues in his career."
Bucknell is coming off back-to-back 25-win seasons. In 2010-11 the Bison swept the Patriot League regular-season and tournament titles and made their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance. Last season, Bucknell finished 12-2 in Patriot League play to win the regular-season crown for the second straight year. After falling to Lehigh in a hard-fought Patriot League championship game, the Bison went on to knock off top-seeded Arizona in the first round of the NIT.