Tight race for KBL Rookie of the Year

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Tight race for KBL Rookie of the Year

The race for the Korean Basketball League’s Rookie of the Year is heating up as two former college teammates have shown impressive performances since the beginning of the season.

It’s been just over a month that the league started, but Anyang Korea Ginseng Corporation’s center Oh Se-keun and Seoul SK Knights’ guard Kim Sun-hyung are so far the only two rookies who are averaging more than 10 points per game.

Both were key players in Chung-Ang University’s 52 consecutive wins in college basketball last year and, not surprisingly, were the top two draft picks for the KBL this season. Oh was drafted first, followed by Kim.

Oh was expected to be the front-runner for the Rookie of the Year award before the league even started. The 24-year-old has been playing for the national team since 2008 and his statistics so far have proven why he was the No. 1 drafted player.

As of Monday, Oh scored 15.85 points per game, which is 13th overall and first among domestic players, excluding foreigners and mixed-blood players.

But Oh’s performance shines more on the defensive side. At 2 meters (6 feet, 5 inches tall,) Oh collects 7.46 rebounds and 1.54 blocks per game. He is ranked fourth overall in block shots. Pundits rate Oh an aggressive player under the rim and say he is adjusting fast in the league in defense.

While Oh is growing up to be the next “big man” in the league, Kim is steadily impressing fans with his tireless movements. The 23-year-old is only 1.87 meters tall, but his powerful dunks are crowd favorites.

Kim’s statistics may be less impressive than Oh - 14.62 points and 3.08 assists per game - but experts are saying his contribution to the Knights is immeasurable. The Knights, led by interim coach Moon Kyung-eun, were originally considered to be on the bottom of the league, but they are currently sixth among 10 teams.

KBL history shows that Oh has the advantage to win the top rookie award. Among the 13 previous Rookie of the Year award winners, eight were No. 1 drafted players, while no player who was drafted second has won the award yet.

Kim said he is just thinking about improving his team’s performance, but Oh revealed his intention to capture the award.

“You can only win the award once in your lifetime,” Oh said to the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday.

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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