“I’m honored to be selected by the team I wanted to come to the most, and I can’t wait to watch Park Ji-soo, who I can learn a lot from.”
Ko Hyun-ji (18-182.2 cm) was thrilled to be selected by Cheongju KB with the No. 1 overall pick in the Korean Women’s Basketball League (WKBL) Draft for the 2023-2024 season.
Ko put on the KB jersey as the No. 1 overall pick in the first round of the WKBL rookie draft held at Cheongju Gymnasium in Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea, on Thursday.
In an interview after the selection, Ko said, “I’m honored to be selected by the team I wanted to come to the most. I am still lacking a lot, but I will try my best to help the team,” she said.
“My mom, who is from KB, also wanted me to go to KB. I heard that KB is a club with a lot of fans, and I also have national team sisters such as Park Ji-soo and Kang Isul, so I think I can learn a lot from them.”
Ko’s mother is Cho Moon-ju, a former national women’s basketball player who joined the then-unemployed Kookmin Bank in 1984 and was a starting center for the national team that competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and 1990 Beijing Asian Games. This is the first time a mother and daughter have played for KB.
“I dreamed of joining KB even before the draft, and it still doesn’t feel real,” said Ko Hyun-ji, who learned post-ups and under-the-basket skills from her mother, a senior KB player.
“I thought I wasn’t going to cry, but I got emotional when I thought of all the people who were so grateful to me,” said Ko, who had tears in her eyes as she spoke on the podium after her name was called.
“I personally didn’t like the games I played this year, and I was burdened by the idea that I had to prove myself at the tryouts today,” he said. “I wasn’t sure I was going to be picked first. I was just hoping that I would be selected.”
Ko plans to improve his physicality and showcase his skills on the professional stage.
At the combine earlier in the day, he weighed in at just 59.6 kilograms, which is very lean for a player of his height of 182.2 centimeters.
He said, “I still lack a lot of things, including weight. I will make up for it and play hard even for a short time,” he said, adding, “I don’t gain weight easily even when I eat, but I will get help from trainers in the pros with systematic weights.”
When he said, “I’m confident in the No. 3 and No. 4 positions,” he realized that KB coach Kim Wan-soo was referring to No. 2, and he quickly corrected himself, saying, “I can play No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4.” He burst into laughter.
“I saw her play in the Park Shinjah Cup 3-4 match the day before,” Ko said, “Her shooting form is really beautiful and accurate, and she seems to be shooting 3-pointers lately. She is also very good at attacking in clutch situations. I have a lot to learn from her.”
Ko, who wears her hair short enough to reach her jawline, gave a cute answer to the question of what she would most like to do after the draft, saying, “I want to grow my hair,” and then added, “(With my first paycheck) I want to buy a lot of delicious food for my teachers, family, and juniors.”
Regarding the last pick of the day, Chuncheon Girls High School guard Sung Soo-yeon (18-165.2 cm), who was selected with the sixth pick in the second round, she said, “We got to know each other through the youth national team. I was worried that I wasn’t selected, but I’m glad I was.” “She’s a friend I admire as a guard, and I think we’ll have a synergistic effect together.”
KB coach Kim Wan-soo, who called out Ko Hyun-ji at the selection meeting, said, “He has a fast speed for his height. I think he is competitive enough and a great player, and I selected him because I saw the future.”
“We’re going to build up his power through weights and then work on his technical skills,” Kim said about how he will use him, adding, “I think he’s best suited for the No. 2 position.” 스포츠토토
“I think I can refine my strengths as No. 1,” Kim said, “and I hope I can learn a lot from Heo Ye-eun’s senses.”
Twenty-eight players participated in the rookie draft, and 12 were selected by professional teams. The probability of being drafted was 43%, which was lower than last year’s 60% (15 out of 25).
In response, Kim Wan-soo said, “Twelve players got jobs, but 16 were not selected. “I was not a good basketball player myself, so I understand (the situation of the 16 players) very well,” he said. “I also feel sorry for the players who were not selected. Don’t be discouraged, go out into society and do your best, and you’ll get your chance,” he said.