“My goal is to become a player who improves every season!” BNK and the Future of Korean Women’s Basketball Lee So-hee

 Founded in 2019, BNK Some in Busan has always stayed in the lower ranks. He stepped on the playoff stage for the first time in the 2021-2022 season, but was eliminated due to two consecutive losses to Cheongju KB Stars. However, BNK’s blast this season is not unusual. With 6 consecutive victories, he once became a solo player, and is promoting in 3rd place (9 wins and 6 losses). At the center is Lee So-hee. Lee So-hee is showing off her scoring power with an average of 17.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Her bright smile is beautiful, and her jump ball captures the story of her Lee So-hee. ※ This interview was conducted on December 21st, and the record of the article is also based on December 21st.

※This article was published in the January issue of Jump Ball, a basketball magazine.

Q. Since BNK was founded this season, it is ranked highest. How would you feel if you looked back on the season so far?
When I was in the bottom ranks, I thought a lot, ‘Why is only our team like this?’ There were also teams that were below us, but it was a bit selfish. I feel very grateful when my grades go up. I am also satisfied with my individual performance, so I think I am having a good season.

Q. How does it feel to be at the top of the leaderboard?
I didn’t realize it at first (laughs). To be honest, I still don’t feel it. I just think I’m thinking of working harder.

Q. What do you think is the secret to BNK’s ranking at the top?
(Kim) I think it is the leadership of Hanbyeol unnie. Her sister tries to communicate a lot with us. She also speaks a lot of Korean. I thought he was only using English, but since I couldn’t understand him, he spoke Korean (laughs). And Director Park Jeong-eun’s leadership is really great. He cares about the players a lot. Coach Byun Yeon-ha was a shooter representing WKBL when he was a player, and he teaches me a lot. Coach Kim Young-hwa also said that when the game is not going well, he says a lot of good things, but I think he is at the top thanks to several factors.

Q. There was an expectation that Lee So-hee’s stats would drop with the arrival of Kim Han-byul, but it seems to be creating good synergy.
The sister’s weakness that everyone knows is that she’s slow, right? Most of the teams played the backcourt quickly or tried to cut in one count a lot when playing against our team. Still, when the early offense doesn’t go well, unnie plays the role of the trailer really well. Then her attacks become more varied. Also, I think her plus factor is more because her older sister’s arms are really long, so they hold her rebound well.

Q. Isn’t it a strength that you’ve been working with key members such as Ahn Hye-ji and Jin An for a long time?
I totally admit it. It’s been quite a while since I played games with my sisters. I think I’m getting more and more right now. Especially (Ann) Hyeji and her older sister have things in common. Even now, we talk a lot on a regular basis.

Q. Not only team performance, but also individual records are great. What is the driving force behind your growth every season?
Greed is the driving force. Personally, the hardest time for me is when the fans see my game and are disappointed. Of course, I am the most frustrated, but thinking that the fans will be disappointed makes me more motivated. That’s why I always play games with the thought of ‘don’t disappoint the people who believe in me and think about me’.

Q. It seems that your attack skills are improving with each season?
I try to watch as many basketball games as possible. And when I was in Inseong Girls’ High School, teacher Ahn Cheol-ho made me practice dribbling a lot. Because I’m out of my body, other friends are always there, but I’m the only one who can’t. I practiced a lot while looking at myself in front of the mirror at the Inseong Girls’ High School gymnasium. In fact, since I became a pro, I focused on shooting practice, so I think the efforts I made back then are seeing the light now.

“What if I get pushed out of my physical condition? Use your head!”
One of the reasons Lee So-hee was able to step up this season was her experience on the international stage. In February, she was named in the final preliminary list for the 2022 FIBA ​​Women’s Basketball World Cup, and Lee So-hee, who was selected for the first time in the adult national team, made it to the World Cup finals in September. She was not given a lot of playing time due to being pushed by prominent seniors, but she was able to grow by facing the world’s best players in person.

Q. How did she feel when she was selected for the senior national team for the first time?
I was really surprised. Actually, I thought she was far from me, so she didn’t even know the schedule of the national team at the time. But when she heard the words, ‘Sohee, you are going to the national team’, I remember replying, ‘Yes, me?’ At that time, she was in good condition, so I was very grateful.

Q. How is the training atmosphere of the national team?
I really like it. The captain was (Kim) Danbi (Woori Bank) older sister, and she trained really hard and took care of her juniors a lot. (Park) Hyejin (Woori Bank) Her sister also helped her by her side, so her mood went up. In my team, I played regularly, but in the national team, I spent more time sitting on the bench, right? That’s why I felt a lot while watching the game.

Q. You were put in for the first time in the World Cup final qualifier match against Australia. How was it when you played the game?
I once beat Australia when I was on the U18 team. In that game, my shot went really well, so I couldn’t see anything, but when I tried to stick to it this time, it turned out to be a very high wall. I was no match for strength and height. I thought a lot that I had to play basketball with my head because I was inferior in terms of physical condition.

Q. Due to the confirmation of COVID-19, you were unable to participate in the warm-up match against Latvia right before the World Cup. Wasn’t it a pity that it was an opportunity to wear the Taegeuk mark and play in front of domestic fans?
To be honest, I personally wasn’t ready. Even though I trained steadily, I was not sure about my play. It was a pity that it was the first domestic evaluation match after the launch of WKBL, but I think it would have disappointed the fans if I hadn’t been able to play in an unprepared state.

Q. You experienced the World Cup stage. What did you learn?
Korea’s physical condition is too poor. The World Cup is a tournament where players from all over the world gather, but since I am inferior in terms of physical condition, I thought that I should do something else. As I said earlier, I tried to play a lot of tricks with my brain.

Q. You were defeated by the world’s strongest USA, but your confident play stood out.
Since there is a big difference in physical condition, I tried a lot of plays to deceive the opponent. He faked it and threw a fadeaway, or he faked another layup. It only worked once, but I think that was a huge achievement.

“I recommend the Prada hobo bag and chrome cast.”
Lee So-hee is already in her 5th season on the professional stage, but she is still only 22 years old. Her hobbies as a college student her age are watching YouTube and Netflix, and writing in a diary. Contrary to her bold image in the court, she was a very sensitive girl. She surprised reporters with her sincerity and maturity in her bright smile.

Q. Now, let’s ask a non-basketball question. You are growing steadily every season and your salary is also going up. How do you manage your salary?
Don’t put a hand on it, mom do it. I accept my allowance. Her mom shows her bankbook once a year to see how much money she has collected. She totally trusts me. As for investment, when the interest rate rises, she uses her pocket money as an installment savings account. Actually, I don’t have to spend that much money. I never do stocks or coins. There are a lot of things that make me feel bad, but I don’t think I’ll have the confidence to watch it go negative (laughs).

Q. If so, have you ever done flex as a pro?
It’s a Prada hobo bag. I saved up my pocket money to buy it, but I really worried a lot. I bought it thinking I should use it a lot, and I actually wear it a lot. So it was not worth it at all. If women see my interview, I would like to recommend a Prada hobo bag (laughs).

Q. You have been keeping your hair short lately. Do you have any thoughts on growing it?
To be honest, I grew my hair a bit after I became a pro, but I cut it short again in October of last year. I got tired of my long hair. And everyone around me said that I was smarter when I was a rookie. And I bleached my hair once after last season, but my hair was so damaged that I couldn’t grow it. Now I’m thinking of breeding again. But I don’t know myself well, so I don’t know how long I’ll go (laughs).

Q. What do you usually do when you rest?
I’m a famous housekeeper in BNK. I watch YouTube or Netflix a lot at home. Since the accommodation is not a smart TV, I bought a chromecast and connected it. Then it becomes a smart TV. I really recommend this too (laughs). If you don’t have a smart TV, buy it. These days, I watch a lot of drama and movie reviews on YouTube. I’m watching the drama <The Youngest Son of a Chaebol> on Netflix, and it’s so much fun.

Q. So, do you have any hobbies?
I like to write a diary. There are many types, such as diaries and basketball journals. If you don’t want to forget the feelings you have today, write down your thoughts about those feelings. I am very emotional. Yesterday too, I cried because I was so sad watching the movie <Avatar 2>. I didn’t cry enough to shed tears, but I held it back.

Q. What are your interests besides basketball these days?
Hmm, personality. Actually, as a basketball player, my goals are not that clear. I am working hard with the mindset of ‘Let’s become a player who improves every season’. But after you retire, you live as a human Lee So-hee in earnest, right? So I want to have a slightly better personality. I am a shy person.

Q. Now the season has turned around. What are your goals for the rest of the season?
First of all, it is most important not to get hurt. And I want to become a player who can find a different direction when things go wrong. For example, when the attack doesn’t work, I don’t focus too much on the attack and focus on other parts. When I do one turnover, I think it’s necessary to shake it off because I have a personality that doesn’t work for the next one if I put it in the next one.

Q. Lastly, please say something to the fans who support you.
First, there is something I want to say to my parents. Mom and Dad haven’t been playing well lately, so I thought they would be annoyed when I went home, so I stayed at the dorm even when I stayed out. In case my bad feelings are conveyed, I only talk on KakaoTalk but I don’t call often, but I’m sorry I couldn’t contact you. But I’m going home soon, so let’s have a good time.

I’m ranked high in the All-Star fan vote, and I think it’s possible because of the fans’ interest and support. These days, I get a lot of calls encouraging me despite my bad performance. I want to say thank you for gaining so much strength. I will always be a humble player without forgetting that there are fans, so please support me a lot. Thank you very much. 메이저놀이터

▼ Lee So-hee’s shy fanning-out?
During the interview with Lee So-hee, when she said, “So-hee’s picture will be on the back cover,” she asked back, “Then who is on the front cover?” As readers of the magazine know, the cover of the January issue is Lee Jung-hyun (Carrot). When I told this to Lee So-hee, she said, “Have you already had an interview? Tie them together and do it…” she laughed. It turns out that Lee So-hee has been a fan of Lee Jung-hyun since Gunsan High School.

“When she was on the U17 team, she went with the men’s and women’s teams,” she says. I had some time left, so I went to watch the men’s game, but my opponent was the United States. At that time, the number 6 player with a strange hairstyle and pants down was doing really well. That was Lee Jung-hyun’s brother. It was impressive how he never gave up against the best team in the world. I thought, ‘There was a player like that at my age’. Since then, I became a fan, and I watched Gunsan High School games constantly.” Lee So-hee said:

She continued, “I’ve never met in private, but she kept in touch when I was in high school. You probably know I’m a fan. And we had skill training together last offseason. We had a little conversation at that time. Even today, I still call from time to time,” she added.

Both Lee So-hee and Lee Jung-hyun are doing their best in their respective positions, so if the opportunity arises, an interesting story will come out even if we do an interview together. Lee So-hee said, “It would be nice to do a magazine interview. Please put it on next time you do it,” she said with a shy smile.

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