A year playing for Jason Kidd’s AAU team helped BYU basketball signee Sophia Lee land in Provo

Lee is the third player to sign with the Cougars from the 2022-23 class.

(BYU athletics) BYU women's basketball signee Sophia Lee.

The BYU women’s basketball team is experiencing a transition period this summer.

Amber Whiting has replaced the retired Jeff Judkins as coach. Younger players will have to step up after the departures of graduates Paisley Harding, Sara Hamson, Tegan Graham and Maria Albiero.

One part of that new chapter is Sophia Lee, who signed with BYU in early May. She’s a 5-foot-7 wing player who can play multiple positions and is inherently coachable.

“She’s really the model teammate and player that you would want in your program,” said Alle Moreno, who coached Lee both at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, Calif., and with her AAU team, Jason Kidd Select.

(Sophia Lee) BYU women's basketball signee Sophia Lee shoots a free throw during a game as a member of Jason Kidd Select, an AAU team backed by the Dallas Mavericks head coach.

Lee will join BYU for the 2022-23 season. That recruiting class also includes Alyssa Blanck. Shayla Gillmer was had been committed to BYU, but will now be playing for the University of Washington after citing “unfortunate changes in the staff at BYU” on her Instagram page.

Lee spent one season playing for the AAU team backed by Kidd, who coached the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks to the Western Conference finals. It was there where she felt she improved her on-court skills and also her abilities as a leader.

Kidd congratulated Lee on Twitter when she received the offer from the Cougars in mid-April. Toward the end of the AAU season at a tournament in Dallas, Lee got to meet Kidd. She said he took the teams to a restaurant, paid for their meals and gave them a tour of the Mavericks locker room.

Lee described Kidd as “caring.”

“I would say that because it’s not a lot of time[s] when really famous people go out of their way to start a whole AAU program for basketball — specifically girls’ basketball,” Lee said.

Lee’s recruitment started later than normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It ramped up this past January after a tournament around Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Part of what also got her some attention from college coaches, she said, was sending her own film to schools.

BYU was the “biggest” school that became interested in Lee. When she made her official visit, the coaches and players made a lasting impression on her.

“I really I felt the energy when I arrived,” Lee said. “Just being with them for five minutes, you can see the family environment and really how they treat their players.”

Lee’s recruitment came at a time when Judkins had already announced his retirement and the school had not yet tabbed Whiting as the team’s new coach. She committed largely based on the opportunity to work with assistant coach Melanie Day.

But Day will not return to coach for the Cougars, sources told The Salt Lake Tribune.

“I really connected with Coach Mel,” Lee said. “So I think that’s definitely going to be different because I was really looking forward to being coached by her.”

(Sophie Lee) BYU women's basketball signee Sophia Lee stands while wearing a BYU sweatshirt. She is part of the 2022-23 signing class.

Nevertheless, Lee is looking forward to making a new connection with Whiting and any other new assistants that may get hired, she said.

Lee comes from a basketball family. Both her parents played in college in Canada, where they are from. Her younger sister, Jordan, also plays for Saint Mary’s and Kidd’s AAU team.

Moreno said Lee is a versatile player who loves to work hard.

“She scores when she needs to, but she doesn’t base her game off of scoring,” Moreno said. “That’s kind of where her uniqueness comes in and her coachability and her blue-collar work ethic.”

Basketball is not the only sport in which Lee has participated. She ran several running events for her high school’s track and field team. She also ran cross country. And during her senior year, she threw shot put and discus because her team needed more girls to participate in those events.

Off the court, Lee is a voracious reader. She said she recently read 10 books in the span of two weeks, with the books averaging about 300 pages. Her genre of choice? Romance novels.

Lee may not get much opportunity to play in her freshman season at BYU. But she wants to enter her college basketball career with mindset of working her way into the rotation.

“I think my role is going to become someone who just works hard and then does the little things because that’s what I’ve been doing, and that’s something I really love doing,” Lee said. “I’m always a person to get the loose ball, the rebound and just really work hard for my spot.”