Desperate for a resurgence, Lee Jong-hyun calls KGC first… There was only one requirement

Big man Lee Jong-hyun (29) was the most highly touted prospect. However, he hasn’t made much of a mark since entering the professional scene. Now, he’s making a new attempt to revive his career.

Anyang KGC Ginseng Corporation officially announced on the 22nd that it has signed Lee Jong-hyun, who was a free agent (FA). The contract is for one year and a total compensation of 150 million won (130 million won in salary and 20 million won in incentives). KGC was lowered in height by the surprise transfer of ‘legendary big man’ Oh Se-geun to Seoul SK. They quickly brought in Lee Jong-hyun to bolster their lineup. At 203 centimeters tall, Lee Jong-hyun will compete with another big man, Kim Chul-wook, to provide strength under the basket for KGC.

However, it was Jong-hyun, not KGC, who first contacted the team for negotiations. A KGC official told Star News on the 22nd, “After the announcement of Oh Se-geun’s transfer, Lee Jong-hyun was also interested in KGC and thought he had a chance with the team. He first contacted team manager Kim Sang-sik and asked him, ‘What do you think of me,’ and then met with him about twice.” The official shared the situation.

Lee Jong-hyun was desperate. He put aside his pride, his old reputation, and his goal to get back on his feet somehow. There was only one condition he demanded at the negotiating table. It was playing time. A KGC official said, “He didn’t ask for a contract or anything like that, but just to play a lot. He said that he hadn’t been able to play for a long time, and his feelings had dropped a lot. He said he was confident if he could improve his performance through positive competition.” Lee Jong-hyun’s desperation eventually won KGC over. A KGC representative said, “The terms of the negotiation, including salary and incentives, were easily agreed upon because Lee Jong-hyun was motivated. He was eager and sincere,” the official explained.

Lee Jong-hyun was a top prospect. He was famous even before he turned pro. He earned a call-up to the national team as a high school player and helped the Korean men’s basketball team win a gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. After dominating the collegiate scene at Korea University, he was drafted first overall by the Ulsan Hyundai Mobis in the 2016 NBA Draft. However, after turning pro, he was plagued by frequent injuries and didn’t perform as well as expected. Eventually, he had to leave his first professional team, Hyundai Mobis. He went on to play for Goyang Orion and Jeonju KCC. He didn’t make the first team. His playing time was limited after his injury. Last season, he played 15 regular-season games for KCC, averaging just 12 minutes and 14 seconds per game. He aims to make a comeback with this move to KGC.


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