“Why did you choose college instead of the pros?”
On March 19, Onyang Girls’ High School in Chungnam defeated Dongju Girls’ High School in Busan, South Korea, 89-86, to win the gold medal in the women’s U19 basketball final at the 104th National Sports Games at Mokpo High School Gymnasium in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province. With the victory, Onyang Girls’ High School ended 2023 with four titles.
This year’s women’s high school trophy was split between Onyang Girls’ High School and Bundang Business School. Bundang Business School won three titles by winning the spring championship in March, the association championship in April, and the kingdom championship in August, while Onyang Girls’ High School won three titles by winning the federation championship in May, the individual championship in August, and the fall championship in September.
The two schools attempted to win four titles, aiming to win the national championship. However, Bundang Business School lost to Supia Girls’ High School in the quarterfinals, and Onyang Girls’ High School defeated Supia Girls’ High School in the semifinals to win the title.
Thus, 2023 ended as the year of Onyang Girls’ High School.
Ryu Ga-hyung, the captain of Onyang Girls’ High School for a year, said, “I had never won so many championships before. When we started our first tournament in our third year, we were determined to finish in the top four, and I’m happy that we were able to achieve more than that.”
Yang In-ye, a two-time MVP in May and September, said, “I’m grateful to Coach Kim Han-kyo and Coach Cho Hyun-jung for the past three years. I think I have come this far thanks to my seniors, teammates, and juniors who have always worked out with me even though I lacked a lot. I feel like I had the best three years because I won the gold medal in the last competition of my third year.”
Choi has been an energizer bunny, balancing the team’s offense at every tournament. “I transferred here from high school,” Choi said. It was nice to be with good seniors and teammates. In my freshman and sophomore years, we finished third a lot, but this year, the manager and coach said a lot of good things, and we were able to win a lot because we led the juniors well. It was really nice to accomplish what we set out to do.”
Choi was the team’s outside shooter. After hitting seven three-pointers in the final of last year’s fall tournament, Choi hit four in the national championship final to help the team win the title. “I’ve learned a lot in three years. I got a lot of good results playing basketball with my sister, brother, and friends. In my final year, I’m really happy that we worked together and won the gold medal. I was really happy with my three years of high school.”
However, the three seniors who led Onyang Girls’ High School to the quadruple gold medal did not participate in the WKBL recruitment in September to prepare for college entrance exams. In contrast, Bundang Business School had a different story, as all three of its sophomores (Heo Yoo-jung at No. 3, Park Da-won at No. 5, and Byun Ha-jung at No. 6) were drafted in the first round.
Choi Yoo-ji said, “I wanted to have a variety of social experiences and get certifications. I wanted to challenge myself professionally by working hard during my four years of university and improving my shortcomings.” “It will be emotional to see each other again in different uniforms on the university stage, but we have to compete. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else, so I think it will be more fun to play if we improve and show a new side of ourselves on the court.”
“I wanted to try a lot of things, and I thought I would have more options in college than in the pros,” Choi said. “It’s going to be really weird to see my friends from the past three years in different jerseys. I hope we can all do our best in our respective positions and be even closer than we are now.”
Yang Inye also said, “After I went to university, I thought it would be better for me to gain a lot of experience and memories, play sports, and challenge myself professionally. I will be happy to see my friends on the court in different jerseys, but I will do my best to play. I would like to say that although we wear different jerseys, the four of us are still together.”
Ryu Ga-hyung said, “I thought college life was also a new challenge. Of course, the professional challenge is more difficult, but I wanted to challenge the pros after college. It will be awkward and unfamiliar when we meet each other in different uniforms, but I hope we will do our best in our respective positions and meet again in a better shape.”
Usually, women’s basketball players turn pro right out of high school, so their decision to try out for the college ranks is refreshing, especially since they dominated the high school scene. Although the girls have put their professional aspirations on the back burner, they are not done yet.
Ryu Ga-hyung said, “I will continue to work hard in college and do my best to become a professional player,” and Choi Yoo-ji said, “I will stay 안전놀이터 injury-free in college and integrate well into the team. I want to prepare well for four years and do my best to make it to the pros.”
Choi Yebin said, “I will play basketball for four years again in a new stage. I will show more improvement than I showed in high school,” and Yang Inye said, “My goal is to become a professional. I will not give up and work hard until I become a professional basketball player,” said Yang Inye.