S. Korea's NBA hopeful: NCAA Division I baller Lee Hyun-jung
Updated: 2021-06-04 09:55:21 KST
For some, basketball's three point shot is a desperate attempt at a buzzer-beater.
For Lee Hyun-jung, it's a shot he simply doesn't miss.
That's a result of hours in the gym, shooting threes until he can barely raise his arms.
"Depends on my condition, but probably 700 to a thousand I'm trying to be that guy who works on the unseen hours like Kobe Bryant. Taking like a thousand or two thousand, three thousand."
In 22 games played during his sophomore season in NCAA Division 1 basketball, Lee scored 44.2 percent of shots he took from three-point range.
He also averaged 50.8 percent in field goal percentage and 90 percent from the free throw line.
Had he played a few more games, that would have been good enough to become the eleventh member of the NCAA's exclusive 50-40-90 club.
His marksmanship has landed him on the South Korean national team and insiders are wondering when the 20 year-old will enter the NBA draft.
"It depends on what the NBA scouts or the team says. If I'm good enough to go out after my junior year, I will go. If not, I'm just gonna stay another year. We'll see."
Mock drafts currently have Lee as a potential second round pick, a view shared by former Portland Trailblazer and Korea's first ever NBA player Ha Seung-jin.
"Lee's still a sophomore so I'm aware his draft predictions are low at the moment. But in a few years, I expect them to rise. Even if things don't work out, I think he's at least a future second round pick."
Rooting for him is not only his mother, 1984 Olympic basketball silver medalist Sung Jung-a, but also NBA superstar Stephen Curry, a fellow Davidson Wildcat who once gave him some tips on Zoom.
"One thing he said was, 'Just enjoy it.' As I said, if you have haters, let them motivate you. Don't feel the pressure and just enjoy it. That's what he said."
Lee Hyun-jung's hoop dream starts with playing in the NBA, but it doesn't end there.
The end goal is to inspire other Korean athletes to aim high, just like him.
"We got a lot of stereotypes that Asians can't play in the NBA. You know what I'm saying? I just want to say if you're Asian and you can't jump high or something. Work on the other stuff. Ball-handling like Jeremy Lin or shooting like me? I don't know."