The KBL has seen its fair share of international stars. Jeon Tae-pung (American Tony Akins, 43‧179 cm), Lee Seung-jun (American Eric Sandlin, 45‧205 cm), Lee Dong-joon (American Daniel Sandlin, 43‧200 cm), Moon Tae-young (American Gregory Stephenson, 45‧194 cm), Moon Tae-jong (American Jerod Stephenson, 47‧197 cm), Kim Min-soo (Argentine Julian Fausto Fernandez Kim-41-200 cm) are representative.
Won Ha-joon (American Kevin Mitchell, 43, 183.7 cm) and Park Tae-yang (American Chris Van, 37, 179.2 cm) left the league after a short stint, while Anthony Galloway, Japanese-born Ryosuke Nozawa, Andrew Estebo, Joseph Fontenot, Ronald Tinsley, Mark Wallington, and Parkway Cleveland were not selected by the KBL.
Most of these players came to the KBL through the lottery, with only Kim Min-soo and Lee Dong-joon coming in as rookies from Korean universities. Tony Rutland (48-187 centimeters), who was famous for his teammateship with NBA legend Tim Duncan at Wake Forest University and also played for SK as a foreign licensee, expressed his intention to participate in Moon’s draft, but ultimately did not. At a time when his skills were already on the decline, he had a low chance of being drafted and gave up beforehand.
Now, a player’s aptitude and talent are as important as his height. Choi Jun-yong (29-200.2 cm) is playing as a point forward, which has been rare in Korea, and Song Gyo-chang (26-201.3 cm) was raised as a small forward since his rookie year. In addition, Jung Hyo-geun, Kim Sang-kyu, and many others are playing in positions other than big men, and this phenomenon will not be difficult to see in the future. Overseas players include Lee Hyun-jung (23-202 cm) and Yeo Jun-seok (21-203 cm).
Unfortunately, those days were different. In a world where tall players are scarce, most players who are nearly 2 meters tall play the big man position. If you’re a shorter player (around 5’10”), you might not have a choice, but if you’re a taller player, you’re often stuck with clothes that don’t fit just because you’re taller, even though they’re relatively wide.
This also applies to mixed-race players. Lee Seung-jun grew up as a small forward who could play inside and out, shoot the ball, and set up shots. Kim Min-soo was also a small forward. However, with their size and athleticism, Korean coaches demanded that they play the role of big men, which meant that they had to abandon much of their previous style of play, such as battling under the basket and fighting for rebounds, and learn to play in the post.
In response, Kim Min-soo, the coach of Kyung Hee University, said, “In Argentina, we didn’t decide the position based on height, but the domestic atmosphere was different at the time. A player like me, who is about 2 meters tall, had to play big man. I was disappointed, but I didn’t have any major complaints. After all, when in Rome, you have to follow Roman law. However, I couldn’t change my habits. Even if I tried to stay under the goal, I found myself playing on the outside at some point. I remember feeling frustrated when a player who was weaker than me would come at me, and I would sidestep and shoot when I should have just pushed him away or pierced him. But I’m grateful that the coaches recognized my strengths and allowed me to play as a stretch big man.”
Lee also struggled with the sudden transition to big man. He says, “I played mostly point guard in the United States. When it came to big men, I had a brief experience in my childhood, but it was actually very unfamiliar and unfamiliar. Because I was tall and fit, they asked for a big man, so I didn’t know how to play under the basket, such as post-ups, and then I learned it in Korea. It took a lot of trial and error and a long time to get used to it because I was trying to start from a blank slate at a young age,” he said, recalling the difficult adjustment process.
Brothers Moon Tae-jong and Moon Tae-young didn’t fare as well with the position change. With their height not quite enough for a big man and their style of play already solidified as a swingman, it didn’t make sense for them to change. Jeon Tae-pung was a typical point guard. In many ways, no one asked him to change his position, but it was stressful in other ways.
“Each player has their own style, and when you’ve played that type of game all the way to the adult stage, it’s completely ingrained in your body, and if you try to force it and interfere with it too much, it’s hard to perform well. The point guard is the leader of the team, and if you’re fresh, you can lead the team well. If you’re forced to play a completely different way, it complicates your head and shakes your belief and confidence in yourself.”
Jeon was the quintessential American dual guard. He dribbles fluidly, weaving in and out of the paint, scoring and slipping crisp passes into the open spaces he creates along the way. When the opportunity presents itself, he tries to create his own offense rather than looking for a teammate, because he thinks it’s more efficient, and he has the skills to do it.
But it was just a matter of degree, and the coaches who worked with him were busy pointing out, “You can’t do that!” Jeon Tae-pung said that Heo Jae was the only coach who was somewhat receptive to his style, and they actually shared a championship together. Of course, it’s pointless to debate whether a pure point guard or a dual guard is better. While there are differences in trends over time, both types have evolved to help teams win.
The problem is that Jeon is a guard who grew up utilizing his offense, and that’s what he does best. As a player with such high expectations, the best way to utilize him is to lay the groundwork for him to excel rather than trying to fit into a mold. I think it would have been more exciting if he played with teammates who were good at secondary leading or linker roles.토토사이트
Maybe it’s all in the past now. As we’ve already mentioned, players’ talent and aptitude are now as important as their size. Long forwards of more than 2 meters are no longer unique, and players who are more of a shooting guard can play as the number one depending on the coach’s capabilities and team tactics. What’s lacking in the process, whether it’s in the reading or passing game, is shared by teammates.
When I look back on those days, I feel regretful in many ways, but in another way, I am where I am today because I went through those days. That’s how you grow. But nevertheless, when I look back at the mixed-race players of the time, I wonder what it would have been like if Lee Seung-jun, Kim Min-soo (small forward), Lee Dong-joon (point guard), and others had played their positions.