Lee Hyunjung has been sensational so far in his first two games with South Korea’s seniors’ team in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.
Despite being just 20 years old, Lee has been at the forefront of South Korea’s offense. He has averaged 18.0 points on 43.8-percent shooting from deep, along with 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.0 blocks per game.
And despite his youth, Lee — who is an incoming junior for Davidson College — is playing with a huge chip on his shoulder. He also wants to prove that he can be one of South Korea’s leaders moving forward.
“It’s actually my first time to represent my country in the senior national team. I’m just trying to learn some things because I’m pretty young and I still have no experiences. Like on defense, I feel like I gotta get better; and everything like closeouts, rotation defense, and communication,” said Lee, who was part of the South Korea team that won gold in the 2015 FIBA Asia Under-16 Championship.
“I’m trying to be a leader, and I’m trying to learn as much as possible. I’m thinking that this stage for me is a lesson, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can.”
During his first few days as a senior, Lee has already experienced the lowest of lows and the highest of highs.
It was just last Wednesday that he saw his 15-point outing go to waste after SJ Belangel’s miracle triple that led to a 78-81 loss.
Two days later, he was at the forefront of Korea’s attack in their romp of Indonesia that punched their ticket to the FIBA Asia Cup proper this August.
For head coach Cho Sanghyun, it’s those moments that will further build Lee’s character.
“The shooting by Lee was very surprising for me. But then, there are still other things I can teach him. So I’m gonna give him some lessons.”
And Lee will once again be put to the test when South Korea takes on Thailand on Saturday and Gilas once again on Sunday.