Ayoka Lee says she’ll return to Kansas State Wildcats women’s basketball team for senior season

5:09 PM ET

Mechelle VoepelESPN.com

CloseMechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

Kansas State women’s basketball center Ayoka Lee is still surrounded by the buzz after setting the NCAA Division I women’s basketball record with 61 points Sunday.

And although she is eligible age-wise as a junior for the 2022 WNBA draft, she said Tuesday she plans to return to the Wildcats for her senior season.

“I’m staying another year,” Lee said on a media call. “I really love what I’m doing for school, and I want to finish that education. And I love the program. So that’s the plan.”

The 6-foot-6 Lee is working on her graduate degree in couples and family therapy, and expects to be finished in 2023.

“Growing up, my mom made a big emphasis on, ‘Sports aren’t going to last forever. You need to have something else, because it can be taken from you at any moment,'” Lee said. “The master’s program I’m in, I just love it. It’s definitely something I want to do when sports are done, whenever that is.”

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Lee is currently averaging 25.5 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 59.7% from the field. She made 23 of 30 shots from the field and 15 of 17 from the free-throw line in her 61-point effort Sunday, as the Wildcats beat then-No. 14 Oklahoma 94-65 in Manhattan, Kansas.

Lee broke the record of 60 points that was initially set by Long Beach State’s Cindy Brown in 1987 and tied by Minnesota’s Rachel Banham in 2016.

Lee, like Banham, is from Minnesota, having attended Byron High School. Had she opted for the WNBA draft after this season, many expected her to be a top-five pick.

Kansas State has sent Lee’s jersey and Sunday’s game ball to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Lee and three Kansas State teammates played in the Red Bull USA Basketball 3-on-3 Nationals at the hall in Springfield, Massachusetts, in June.

“It was so cool to see the history in that place,” Lee said. “Sabrina Ionescu has some stuff in there. We played Oregon when she was on the team [in 2019]. And to think that my jersey is going to be in there is crazy.”

Kansas State on Monday announced ticket packages to coincide with Lee’s big game. For 61 hours, ending Thursday, fans can buy single tickets for the Wildcats’ remaining five home games for $1 each, or a group of 100 tickets for $61. The school is also offering $61 season tickets, which will cover the remaining home games and all home games in the 2022-23 season, and a $61 four-pack that includes tickets, parking, a concessions voucher and poster for Saturday’s game against TCU at Bramlage Coliseum.

As much as anything, though, Lee is excited about how the No. 25 Wildcats (15-4) are doing after finishing 9-18 last season. They beat Big 12 powerhouse Baylor Jan. 2 to end a 36-game, 18-year losing streak to the Bears, and they’re currently tied atop the league with Iowa State and Oklahoma at 5-2.

Kansas State travels to No. 9 Texas on Wednesday.

“I think the freshmen have been such a great addition to our team,” Lee said. “And I think all the different personalities that we have has just made our culture so much better. Everyone loves coming in every day.”

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