Maryland’s Choi hopes to join 2010 KBL draft

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Maryland’s Choi hopes to join 2010 KBL draft

After falling into academic ineligibility, Choi Jin-soo, 21, a small forward on the University of Marlyand basketball team, has decided to forgo the remainder of his NCAA Division I career and is now trying to join the upcoming KBL rookie draft on Feb. 3.

“We held a family meeting at the end of last year and decided to let Choi compete in Korea,” said the player’s father, Choi Sung-il. “We have not decided on which course to take in Korea. We looked into whether Choi can transfer to a Korean university, but that’s difficult and the applications period for the KBL rookie draft is closed. There is a high chance that if Choi cannot enter this year’s draft, he’ll be out of basketball for an entire year.”

While the KBL officials can make an exception and allow Choi to join the draft as a late entry, his chances may be slim at this point.

“I will meet with Choi’s father to discuss the matter. It remains to be seen whether the issue will be brought up at the league general meeting on Jan. 11,” said Kim In-yang, secretary general of the KBL. “Choi is a big enough prospect to cause an issue. But the application period for players to enter their names in the draft is now over, and as we must consider the opinions of KBL team officials, it will not be easy to reach a fast decision.”

After failing a course last semester, the sophomore forward, listed at 203 centimeters (6-foot-8) and 88 kilograms (195 pounds), is ineligible to play for the Terrapins until March.

Choi’s height and production on the court were noticed during his middle school days in Suwon. He went to the United States to play high school basketball and entered South Kent School, a private boarding school in Connecticut. He eventually transferred to Montclair College Preparatory School in California. His strong play there caught the eyes of college recruiters.

Rated 41st among small forward recruits by ESPN, Choi became the first Korean to earn a scholarship at the Division I level, when he signed with the Gary Williams-led Terrapins in 2007.

Playing in the competitive Atlantic Coast Conference, Choi became the first Korean player to contend in March Madness last year. However, his freshman season did not go as smoothly as he’d hoped, as he had to endure surgery to his shoulder prior to the start of last season and was briefly declared academically ineligible in late January. Choi has had trouble keeping up with the tough academic requirements of the NCAA in the past and took summer courses last year.

Aside from his lagging grades, Choi has yet to produce solid numbers for the Terrapins. The small forward averaged 1.6 points and 1.1 rebounds in 6.5 minutes last season. The player has sagged further this season, averaging 0.8 points and 1.1 rebounds in nine games for the Maryland basketball program, which has 10 wins and four losses so far this season.

By Lee Eun-kyung, Jason Kim []
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