ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Sept. 8) thatfifth-year seniors C.J. Lee(Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Sutherland HS) and David Merritt(West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield HS) have been awarded scholarships for the upcoming 2008-09 season.
"It is an honor for our program to be able to award scholarships to these two high-achieving young men," said Beilein. "Both C.J. and David have continued to show every day what it means to be true student-athletes at the University of Michigan. They have earned these scholarships because of their positive attitude, hard work and dedication to the basketball program. They are a reflection of the type of quality individual who help strengthen our program."
After transferring to Michigan from Manhattan two years ago, Lee walked onto the U-M program and sat out the 2006-07 season due to NCAA transfer rules. During that season, Lee commanded the Maize and Blue scout team all season. In his first eligible season last year, Lee played in 32 games, earning seven starts while averaging 1.2 points, 1.0 rebounds and nearly an assist a game. Lee, who was an Academic All-Big Ten selection, completed his degree in political science in 2008 and is now working on a master's degree in public policy.
"Getting my scholarship renewed was a blessing and it came unexpected," said Lee. "I am happiest for my family and my friends who hung in there with me when I decided to transfer to Michigan a couple years ago. These people knew it was possible even when I put it out of my mind just so I could do my day to day work here at Michigan. It was something that I was working for and had my sights set on achieving but I did not allow it to hurt my attitude.
"I made it a point to work here in Ann Arbor this summer so I would be able to work out with my teammates and strength and conditioning staff. I think the time paid off and I am very thankful to Coach Beilein and the staff for seeing me as a valuable member of the team. I also thank my teammates who pushed me this summer to work hard so our team can continue to get better."
Merritt walked onto the team as a junior and has been part of the Wolverine program ever since. After seeing only four games off the bench as a junior, he played in 20 games last season, quickly becoming one of the leaders on and off the floor. He saw 10.7 minutes per game last season while averaging 1.5 points, 1.3 rebounds and nearly an assist a game. Merritt, who was an Academic All-Big Ten selection, completed his undergrad with a degree in sport management and is pursuing a master's degree in urban planning.
"This is truly a wonderful opportunity and honor to receive a full basketball scholarship here at the University of Michigan," said Merritt. "I can't thank Coach Beilein and the coaching staff enough for the generosity and support they have shown me over the last year. It feels so awesome to now be on basketball scholarship after several years of not making the team during walk-on tryouts.
"My parents and family deserve a great deal of credit for their love and support throughout this journey. I would also like to thank my teammates for helping push me to become the basketball player I am today. Receiving a basketball scholarship feels even better because I get to share this experience with C.J. Lee, one of the most stand-up guys I know."
With the preseason in full swing for the Wolverines, the Maize and Blue will open the 2008-09 season with an exhibition contest against Saginaw Valley State on Thursday, Nov. 6, at Crisler Arena. The regular season will open with U-M hosting one of four regional sites for the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 11-12, at Crisler Arena.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423
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