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She's back! K-State All-American basketball player Ayoka Lee returns

What an honor to be chatting with the Wildcat legend herself, Ayoka Lee. 

My friend, you recently made a big announcement. You’re coming back to K-State next year! How big of a decision was that on you? 

It was a pretty big decision. It was stressful for a little bit. It’s good to have options, so it was good to be in the position I'm in. But yeah, it was just a lot to think about. 

I’m sure it was, especially after this year. The team had it’s highs, and lows, and then you had to deal with another injury. 

I didn't want to make an emotional decision after our last game, but I also knew I have a lot of other things outside of basketball that I really enjoy and love doing. Then, the opportunity to go pro, and all those things were kind of mixed into the decision. I think it just came down to really like looking at where I was at, and where I want to be in the future. And the best decision was just to stay here. It comes with a lot of opportunity, and I've built a lot of great relationships, and I'm really established here. So yeah, when you think about like that, it sounds a little bit more easy. 

What is it about Kansas State that you love?  

I think since the first time I visited, I just have always had just a feeling of ‘this is where I'm supposed to be.’ I don't think things like that come very often. Since then, I've been able to build a lot of great relationships. I've been very successful, on and off the court, and just being able to have an impact here that I just never imagined I would. So yeah, finding a place where you can do all those things is really cool. In this day and age, that’s not something that a lot of people get to do. It’s really special, and all those things is what makes it.

The women's game's never been more popular. During the Final Four, ESPN had their most watched basketball game in history. What are your thoughts on the current state of the women's basketball? 

Yeah, I think it's really exciting, and I think it's really exciting just to see where our program's at now. I think these past couple years has been really big for us in getting more fans and getting K-State women’s basketball more visibility. So, in the grand scope of everything, I think is just really exciting. 

I'd be remiss to ask - Caitlyn Clark is the most famous basketball player on the planet right now. 


And you went to her house and you beat her.


What's your thoughts on her? 

Yeah, I think she's done a lot for the game, and of course, she’s a phenomenal athlete. So yeah, I’ve got a lot of respect for her, and it's just really cool to see just how impactful she's been on the game. We wouldn't be where we are in women's basketball if it weren’t for her. 

And you went to her court and beat her!

 Yeah we did! 

For the last few years, this team's kind of been built around you. What did the addition of Gabby Gregory mean to you, and the team? 

Gabby as a person, and then add her game, just brings so much to life. She brings that personality to our team and into the game that we hadn't had in a while. She’s someone who could talk the talk, and walk the walk. So it was really impactful. 

And then, there's obviously the other teammates, they helped elevate the team too. 


So, what was the vibe like with everybody on the team? 

The group we had this year, and we'll have next year – we all get along off the court, so it just makes it so much better. Playing together, Giselle and Z both gave us the great lifts that we needed. I think that's been the biggest difference, is we have a good team as a unit. It’s not just our starters that are good, and it’s not just a few of our starters are good. Our starters are good, and whoever's coming off the bench is going to have an impact and give us whatever lift we need. So, that’s really cool and really exciting. 

Well, just look how excited your teammates were when they just got to see you. I know you guys spend a lot of time together, and those three authentically, genuinely, got excited when they saw you turn that corner. 

Yeah, no, I love those girls. I love all my teammates. At the end of the season we get a break and everyone kind of does their own thing, so I don't really get to see them as much, but yeah. It's just sweet. 

Well, it's official. You're coming back. What's your early thoughts on next season? 

I'm excited. I think I try to just live where my feet are. So, I think right now it's just focusing on the spring and the summer and just like any other year, doing all the prep I need to, to be ready once we get to preseason. This year is just a little bit more special because I won't be coming off an injury. So, I'll actually get a full spring and summer, which will be really nice. 

Is your foot and your knee and your leg and everything good? 

Yeah. Someone once told me, ‘every athlete is someone who compensates. Their body's never perfect.’ So, it's just about maintenance and continuing to move and keep my body running well.

Beyond next year, what's the future hold for you? Professional basketball, then what? 

Yeah, I don't know. I'm got my Master's in Couple and Family Therapy. I'm very passionate about that area. So, we'll just see what happens, but right now this is where I'm going to be, so this is what I'm going to think about.

What's your favorite thing about Manhattan, Kansas? 

Hmm, that's a good question, my favorite thing. I'm a big foodie, so I think we have a lot of good restaurants that a lot of places don’t. Then, I just think the community as a whole is just a special place. I don't think there's anywhere like it. And the whole community's for K-State, which is also really cool. 

You know how loved you are around here too, right? 

Yeah, very!  

Im glad you know, because we are all SO happy you’re coming back! 

We're back! 

I just think the community as a whole is just a special place. I don't think there's anywhere like it, and the whole community is for K-State.

I think it just came down to really like looking at where I was at and where I want to be in the future, and the best decision was just to stay here.