“Let’s make one promise with you.”
Coach Yoo Jae-hak (60), who was the head coach of the men’s national basketball team during the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, said to the players ahead of his first training session. He ordered ‘to touch the line honestly’ while training to run back and forth from the baseline, the free throw line, the half line, the opponent’s free throw line, and the baseline in turn. If the players keep this well, coach Yoo promised, ‘I will only train for 3 hours’.
Lee Seung-joon (45), who was a member of the national team for the Guangzhou Asian Games, still cannot forget the order and promise of coach Yoo at the time. This is because it served as an opportunity for the leaders and players to build trust little by little and come together. Korea won the runner-up at the Guangzhou Asian Games and reached the podium for the first time in eight years. On the 6th of last month, Lee Seung-joon reflected on Director Yoo’s words once again. Appointed as a coach at Chosun University on that day, he decided to become a ‘leader who believes in players and a leader trusted by players’. Lee Seung-joon is the first time that a player who played in Korean professional basketball through the draft of a mixed-Korean player has led a professional team or university in Korea. Born to an American father and a Korean mother, he experienced American college basketball and the NBA Summer League. He played in the domestic professional league as a foreign player at Hyundai Mobis in the 2007-2008 season, and since 2009 as a naturalized mixed-race player in Samsung, Dongbu (now DB), and SK.
Lee Seung-jun, whom I met on the 28th of last month, said, “I have played as a player in both the US and Korea. Korean basketball tends to value breathing and tactics among players,” he said.
For Lee Seung-jun, the opportunity to become a college basketball coach came by chance. After retiring from SK in the 2015-2016 season, he continued his career as a 3-on-3 national basketball team from 2017. In 2021, Chosun University coach Kang Yang-hyun (41) took over as the 3-on-3 basketball team command tower, and Lee Seung-jun was offered the Chosun University coach position. Lee Seung-jun, who had never seriously considered becoming a leader, pondered over Coach Kang’s proposal. Then, in June of last year, because of his wife, he briefly coached the 3-on-3 Romania women’s national team, which led to his interest in the path of a leader, and eventually led to the coaching of Chosun University. Lee Seung-jun’s wife is Sonia Kim (30), who plays for Shinhan Bank in women’s professional basketball. Born to a Korean father and a Romanian mother, Sonia Kim was a member of the Romanian national team in 3v3 basketball. Lee Seung-jun said, “I found her coaching fun while teaching the Romanian national team players.” 스포츠토토
The Chosun University basketball team, founded in 1988, is a team that hovers around the bottom of the first division of the college league. The best performance since 2010, when it was promoted to the first division, was 10th in 2016 (12 teams in total). This season, as of the 3rd, they are tied for 11th place, the lowest with Kyunghee University, with all four losses. Lee Seung-jun said, “It seems that my skills are not coming out because the players at Chosun University have withered due to poor grades for many years.”
Lee Seung-jun said that he was deeply moved by the book ‘NBA Myth’ written by former NBA Chicago coach Phil Jackson. In particular, he said, “The sentence ‘The leader’s ego must always be at a lower level than the player’ touched my heart.”
Lee Seung-jun’s goal this year is for Chosun University to finish in at least 9th place and accept a final single-digit ranking. He said, “I want to create a virtuous cycle where the team becomes one and the results improve and the players can enjoy basketball,” he said. “I want to help players with potential to advance to the pros someday.”