On a normal team, Tamara Lee would have started as a freshman.
Edmond Santa Fe — that year — was far from a normal team with players like star Courtney Walker leading the way.
Lee, instead, was relegated to a part-time role, but always watching and always learning from Walker.
Four years later, that paid off as Lee turned into the star and leader of the Wolves and followed in Walker’s footsteps by earning a spot on The Oklahoman’s Super 5 girls basketball team.
“Freshman and sophomore year, if I was down, she would pick me back up,” Lee said. “So I try to teach my teammates if they’re down. I would go over to them and pat their shoulder and say, ‘It’s going to be OK,” or stuff like that. I try to be a better teammate like how Courtney raised me.”
Walker, who is now a star at Texas A&M, was the Super 5 Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012, Lee’s freshman and sophomore seasons.
Before each game, Walker and Lee would battle one-on-one in warmups, improving their attacking ability to the hoop and ballhandling. It also passed some nervous energy.
“I think she picked up that edge,” Santa Fe coach Paul Bass said of Lee. “You’ve got to have a player like that on your team. I think that tenacity of working hard and we’re not going to lose, I think that’s what she got from her.”
Lee blossomed this season offensively, averaging 16.1 points per game and improving her 3-point shooting from 24 percent as a junior to 34 percent to lead the Wolves to a Class 6A runner-up finish.
It was her lightning quick shot and relentless work ethic in the gym that helped that improve.
“Every day, especially on weekends,” Lee said about her shooting workouts. “I would go up (to Santa Fe) with Coach Bass on Sundays and workout on my 3s. Then on Saturday’s I would go anywhere, YMCA or Santa Fe gym, and just shoot 3s.”
Once the 3s started falling, Lee became an even more dangerous player.
She was no longer the player who had to drive to get points. Now, teams had to choose to try to stop her long-range shooting or keep her impressive speed at bay.
“We had in-state coaches looking at her and I think (her shot) was the No. 1 thing they were a little nervous at,” Bass said. “I would have taken her in a heartbeat just because of her first step.
“That shot just started clicking, it’s just a natural shot for her and this year she would come down, pull up and fire.”
As a result, Lee has signed with the University of Denver and has a chance to come in next season and make an impact.
“You have to have that player who can shoot with no fear and she’s that kind of player,” Bass said. “She will do every well at the University of Denver because she will be instant offense for them down there and give them something to build on.”