BRUNSWICK — Brian Lees knows a good deal when he sees one.
The University of Akron extended an offer the Brunswick senior catcher couldn’t refuse — a scholarship that covers $20,000-per-year tuition — and Lees made it official Monday by signing a national letter of intent.
“It’s a great deal knowing that Akron and Coach (Rick) Riembielak had faith in me and they think I’m a great player,” Lees said. “I know I’m going to work hard when I get there. It’s great someone acknowledges me and knows that I could do it.”
Lees committed to Cincinnati just days before the season. The Bearcats, however, offered only an opportunity to be a preferred walk-on, meaning Lees would have to earn a scholarship.
Riembielak knew the opportunity was still there to land Lees, and he kept in constant contact with Blue Devils coach Todd Winston.
Finally, Riembielak, who has had 36 players sign professional contracts in 17-plus years as a collegiate coach, came to a Brunswick practice and convinced Lees to make an official visit.
It didn’t take long for the right-handed hitter to buy what Riembielak was selling.
“It hurt a little bit because I liked Cincinnati — it’s great down there — but I had to think about what was best for me,” Lees said.
Lees, who plans to major in criminal justice, was a first-team All-Northeast Ohio Conference River Division third baseman as a junior. This spring, he inherited the catching duties from the graduated Tyler Greiner, who is now playing at Bowling Green State University, and is hitting .354 with a team-best 20 RBIs and 20 runs scored along with committing just one error in 132 chances.
Another former teammate, Anthony Bova, had a small role in Lees heading to Akron. Bova is a preferred walk-on for the Zips.
Bova spoke glowingly of Riembielak, the campus and the facilities, furthering Lees’ belief that Akron was the place for him.
“(Bova) definitely likes the school,” Lees said. “They’ve done a lot of renovations throughout the last few years. The team and the coaches are great. Everything is good.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.