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St. Louis Post-Dispatch Boys Basketball Notebook: University City Poised to Pounce

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Boys Basketball Notebook: University City Poised to Pounce 

Coach Lee Don't look now, but Kelvin Lee is back.

After successful coaching stints at Chaminade and St. Mary's, Lee is now in his third season at University City. He has the Lions poised to make some noise this winter.

All five starters returned after U. City went 15-11 overall and won the Suburban Conference Blue Pool with a 6-1 record. The Lions were knocked out of their Class 4 district tournament by Hazelwood East, 64-61.

With a year of experience and an understanding of the program's expectations, U. City will be a challenge for its opponents.

“We're going to get up and down the floor and defend,” Lee said.

U. City started off strong last season as it opened up 7-2. It hit a rough patch when it started playing in the Legends of Winter Roundball Classic at St. Louis U. High and then Kirkwood's Denver Miller Tournament that left it 7-7. But the Lions rallied to win six of their last eight games.

Expect an even better start this season. Lee said this is the first preseason he hasn't had to shut down conditioning workouts and keep his team in study hall to make sure their grades were acceptable.

“That's when I knew things were different,” Lee said. “You have to change the culture.”

It hasn't been an easy change. Senior guard Trayvon Robinson is the only holdover from Lee's first season with the program. Last season, Lee made the choice to go young with freshmen and sophomores with his eyes on the future.

It appears to have paid dividends.

Sophomore point guard Larry Abbey drew praise from Lee. Junior forward Jalen Hampton is back after averaging 12 points and nearly eight rebounds per game, both team highs. Junior Brandon Ming chipped in nearly eight points and five rebounds per game.

Robinson averaged nearly 10 points, four rebounds and more than two assists and a steal per game.

U. City has some early tests to see where it stands. It will take on Hazelwood Central in the semifinals of the Jerry Boeckman Memorial Tournament at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Vianney.

“I love it,” Lee said. “It's a good gauge to see where we are as a team.”

The Lions get Class 5 semifinalist Francis Howell in the GAC/Suburban Challenge on Dec. 21 at Lindenwood University. U. City is also returning to the Legends of Winter and Denver Miller tournaments.