Monte Lee has wasted little time making a name for himself as head coach at Clemson. In his first three seasons, he has accumulated a 133-57 (.700) record, as the 133 wins are eighth most in the nation during that time period.
Clemson is one of just five programs in the nation with 42+ wins each of the last three years and one of only four programs in the country to host a regional each of the last three seasons. He is also 61-38 against ACC teams and 11-9 against SEC teams. A total of 19 Tigers have been drafted 22 times, as three Tigers were drafted twice, and one Tiger signed as a free agent as well.
In 10 seasons as a head coach, including seven at College of Charleston (2009-15) and three at Clemson (2016-18), Lee has a 409-202 record (.669), including a 39-16 mark in one-run games, 10 winning seasons and seven NCAA Tournament appearances.
Lee has 42+ wins each of the last five seasons, one of only two head coaches (Dan McDonnell (Louisville) is the other) in the nation who can make that claim. Dan Heefner (Dallas Baptist), Mike Martin (Florida State) and Kevin O’Sullivan (Florida) join McDonnell as head coaches who have 40+ wins each of the last five years, meaning Lee is one of only five head coaches in the nation with 40+ wins each of the last five years.
In his first season at Clemson, Lee directed the Tigers to the 2016 league championship by going 4-0 against four regional teams in the ACC Tournament at Durham, N.C. It was Clemson’s first ACC title since 2006 and was a big reason the Tigers earned the No. 7 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, the first time they hosted a regional since 2011. They followed that with a 42-win season in 2017, marking the first time Clemson amassed 40+ wins in back-to-back years since 2010,11, and hosted a regional for the second year in a row. Then in 2018, Clemson totaled 47 wins, its most since 2006, and hosted a regional for the third straight year.
The 2018 squad finished the season ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation by Perfect Game and were ranked in the top 25 during all 19 weeks, extending the program’s streak to 45 weeks from 2016 to 2018. In all, Lee’s Tigers have been ranked in the top 25 in 52 of the 57 polls, including 52 of the last 54 polls, during his three seasons in Tigertown.
The 2018 Tigers, who had a school-record 16 one-run wins, recorded their most ACC regular-season wins (22) since 2006 and won a share of the ACC regular-season title and its first outright ACC Atlantic Division championship, also firsts for the program since 2006. The Tigers won their final 11 ACC road games and registered three ACC road sweeps for the first time since 1995. The Tigers also set school records for one-run wins (16) and fielding percentage (.975), and tied for third in the nation in home runs (98).
Three Tigers earned All-America honors in 2018, including sluggers Seth Beer and Logan Davidson. Beer, a first-team All-American, was fifth in the nation in homers (22) and became only the second three-time All-American in school history. Davidson totaled 15 homers and had a stellar .971 fielding percentage at shortstop. Chris Williams totaled 18 homers and an ACC-high 72 RBIs, while Kyle Wilkie ended the season on a 29-game hitting streak.
Every pitcher who started a game on the mound in 2017 did not return in 2018, but the 2018 pitching staff still had a 3.65 ERA and 21 saves, tied for second most in Tiger history. Ryley Gilliam was a second-team All-American and First-Team All-ACC selection who had a 1.41 ERA and 11 saves. Ryan Miller and Carson Spiers were also stellar out of the bullpen and were big reasons Clemson was seventh in the nation in wins.
After the 2018 season, Clemson had seven draft picks, tied for 13th most in the nation. Beer became Clemson’s first first-round draft pick since 2012 when he was chosen in the first round by the Houston Astros.
The 2017 Tigers totaled 73 home runs, a .381 on-base percentage and .970 fielding percentage. Reed Rohlman was a second-team All-American and First-Team All-ACC selection who batted .361 and had a 20-game hitting streak. Beer was a Dick Howser Trophy semifinalist and second-team All-American who led the team in homers (16), RBIs (53) and on-base percentage (.478).
The pitching staff was one of the most consistent aspects of the 2017 team, as it easily led the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.93), while its 8.88 strikeouts per nine innings pitched was its best mark since 1996. Clemson had a 3.59 ERA and 562 strikeouts against only 143 walks. Pat Krall, a Senior CLASS Award finalist, was a Second-Team All-ACC selection, while Charlie Barnes was a Third-Team All-ACC pick.
After the 2017 season, nine Tigers were selected in the major league draft, tied for fourth most in the nation and tied for most in the ACC. It was also the most Tigers drafted since 2009 and tied for third most in school history. All nine were first-time draft picks, evidence of Lee’s ability to develop players.
Among the 44 wins in 2016, its most since 2010, Clemson had 24 come-from-behind victories and 14 one-run wins against only six one-run losses. The 2016 Tigers, who were ranked No. 15 in the final USA Today coaches poll, won 11 of their last 13 games, which included a 10-game winning streak, for the first time since 1991. He was also named midseason national coach-of-the-year by D1Baseball.
Clemson was second in the nation in walks (359) and slugged an ACC-high 75 homers, tied for seventh most in the nation, in 2016, more than doubling its previous season’s total, thanks in large part to Beer, who won the Dick Howser Trophy as national player-of-the-year and was a first-team All-American. Beer, who batted .369 with 18 homers, 70 RBIs, a .700 slugging percentage, 62 walks and a .535 on-base percentage, became the first freshman to win the award and the first freshman to be named ACC Player-of-the-Year.
Chris Okey, who hit .339 with 15 homers and 74 RBIs, and Krall, who had a 10-2 record, five saves and an ACC-best 1.67 ERA, also earned first-team All-America honors. It marked the first time the Tigers had three first-team All-Americans in one season. Okey was a second-round draft pick after the season, Clemson’s highest-drafted catcher in history.
Lee was named Clemson’s head coach on June 18, 2015 by director of athletics Dan Radakovich. Lee led the Cougar program to a 276-145 (.656) record and four berths in the NCAA Tournament, including 2014 and 2015.
Lee received national acclaim in 2012 when he was named one of Baseball America’s top-10 head coaches in the nation under the age of 40. He led the Cougars to the Gainesville (Fla.) Regional title in 2014 and advanced to the Lubbock (Texas) Super Regional after capturing the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament championship.
In his seven years at College of Charleston, Lee coached four conference players-of-the-year, two conference pitchers-of-the-year and two conference freshmen-of-the-year. Lee won 200 games at College of Charleston faster than any coach in school history. His teams consistently ranked among the nation’s best offenses.
Lee’s 2015 College of Charleston team had a 45-15 record and ranked in the top 25 for much of the season, including No. 20 in the final USA Today coaches poll. He earned CAA Coach-of-the-Year honors, while Taylor Clarke (pitcher) and Blake Butler (player, defensive player) received top conference honors. The Cougars narrowly missed hosting a regional, but advanced to the Tallahassee (Fla.) Regional title game.
In 2012, the Cougars won a share of the SoCon regular-season title and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. They were fifth in the nation in home runs, the fourth year in a row they finished in the top five in that category. On May 7, 2012, College of Charleston defeated Clemson 4-2 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium, the program’s first win over the Tigers.
In his second season in Charleston in 2010, he directed the Cougars to a 44-19 record and an appearance in the NCAA’s Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Regional final.
Prior to his time at College of Charleston, Lee was an assistant at South Carolina for six seasons (2003-08), serving as the volunteer assistant coach for five years before becoming the recruiting coordinator in 2008. During his time in Columbia, the Gamecocks had a 266-130 record, made six NCAA Tournament appearances, earned four super regional berths and made two trips to the College World Series.
He began his coaching career as an assistant (2001,02) at Spartanburg Methodist College. The 2002 squad totaled a school-record 51 wins, while the 2001 team played in the NJCAA College World Series. Lee also was the head coach of the South Carolina Diamond Devils AAU team in 2002 after serving as an assistant coach in 2001.
Lee was a standout outfielder for the Cougars from 1996-99. In 206 career games, he hit .333 with 156 runs, 240 hits, 50 doubles, six triples, 22 homers, 150 RBIs, 88 walks and 66 steals. He was in the top 10 in school history in career doubles, total bases and RBIs. In 2004, he was inducted as an inaugural member of College of Charleston’s Baseball Wall of Fame at Patriots Point Stadium.
He became the first position player drafted in Cougar history when the St. Louis Cardinals selected him in the 39th round in 1999. He played 82 games over two years (1999,00) in the minors.
Lee, who received academic all-district honors as a senior, earned his bachelor of science degree in elementary education from College of Charleston in 2000 after playing four seasons of baseball and two years of football at Lugoff-Elgin High School in Lugoff, S.C.
He was born Monte Wesley Lee II on Feb. 9, 1977 in Spartanburg, S.C. Lee is married to Eryn Garn Lee and the family has four daughters, Madie, Shelby, Blaire and Alexa.
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