At 7’1”, Kim towers over competition

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At 7’1”, Kim towers over competition

Kim Byung-oh has been turning heads in his freshman season with the Chung-Ang University Blue Dragon basketball program.

The 20-year-old center, listed at 217 centimeters (7 feet 1 inch), is four centimeters shorter than KCC Egis center Ha Seung-jin - but he is still growing. Kim grew 2 centimeters this season, and is projected to grow to at least 220 centimeters.

While it is not uncommon to find players measuring 2 meters or taller in the college ranks these days, Kim is the only 7-foot college player in the entire country. He’s the type of legitimate center with the intimidating size that basketball fans have been waiting for.

Despite his size, Kim is not limited to the low post. The mobile center is technically sound and possesses a solid perimeter shot. A combination of strength, foot speed and a solid jump shot enables Kim to rotate in and out of the post.

“Kim is a very intelligent player who positions himself well in games,” said Blue Dragon head coach Kim Sang-joon. “We’re the type of program that places strong emphasis on the strong play of our centers. We will develop Kim into a dominating center.”

With his height and imposing reach, Kim can be an intimidating presence on defense when rebounding and blocking shots. He was recruited heavily coming out of high school, but decided on Chung-Ang University, which has a reputation for turning out fine centers.

The problem with Kim is his health. He did not play a single game in his freshman season this year after undergoing knee surgery in his final season at Daejeon High School. At 130 kilograms (287 pounds), he weighs about 20 kilograms less than Ha and needs to work to fill out his frame.

“I’ve been taking part in some team practices while rehabilitating my knee,” said Kim. “I don’t want to rush my return and risk reinjuring my knee. I want to make a complete recovery from my injury and add muscle to my frame. I hope to become Korea’s top center some day.”

Coach Kim has plans to give his freshman center 10 to 20 minutes of playing time in his sophomore season with the thought of making him a regular starter by his junior year.

Kim will have big shoes to fill as senior Oh Se-geun will move on to the KBL after helping the Blue Dragon to a the national title and an undefeated season. Widely recognized as one of the top collegiate basketball programs in Korea, Chung-Ang University defeated Kyung Hee University 2-0 in the best-of-three finals.

The rivalry is expected to continue in the coming years as freshman center Kim Jong-kyu of Kyung Hee is expected to provide Kim Byung-oh a tough challenge.

“Kim Jong-kyu mentioned to the media that he and his teammates will break our record of 52 consecutive wins,” said Kim.


By Kim Woo-cheol [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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