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Jonghyun has NBA in his sights
SEOUL (2015 FIBA Asia Championship) - There is much to like about Korea's talented basketball player Lee Jonghyun.
The 21-year-old has plenty of qualities that have already made him an important member of the national team.
Jonghyun stands 2.06m tall, runs the floor well and buries mid-range jumpers.
He also excels defensively.
Jonghyun, in fact, did not just come up with steals in Group D of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
He led all players at the 24-team event with an average of 2.6 blocks per game.
Jonghyun was, overall, a very good player at the World Cup and should only get better.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Jonghyun has declared for the NBA Draft.
He is dreaming about taking a huge step and testing himself against the world's best players in the toughest league.
"I want to challenge that [NBA] dream," Jonghyun said in an interview with Naver sports.
"I have talked to my parents, my coach and my teammates and they were very supportive of me."
After helping Korea win the Asian Games last year on home soil, the Korea University star travelled to America for some training sessions.
"Last season, I was thinking that I was not excellent in individual skill and felt the need to improve it," he said to FIBA.com.
"To make up for my weak points, I took part in in a USA basketball training camp."
When Jonghyun gave an interview to FIBA.com earlier this year, he spoke about his aims as they related to his country.
"My ambition as a professional basketball player is to be the best player in Korea," he said.
Also, I would like to contribute to the national team to help get on the top of the world. - Jonghyun
When it comes to Koreans in the NBA, giant center Ha Seung-Jin, who played at the 2008 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, was the first Korean drafted, having been selected by Portland in 2004 but did not make it in the league.
One thing is for certain about Jonghyun.
The international basketball experience has increased his confidence and made him believe that he can compete against the best players in the sport.
At the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), Jonghyun went up against Atlanta Hawks and Dominican Republic big man Al Horford as well as Cleveland Cavaliers and Russia center Timofey Mozgov, while last year at the World Cup he got to compete against former NBA pivot Gustavo Ayon of Mexico and San Antonio Spurs center Aron Baynes of Australia.
It was a great honor to take part in the national team as the youngest player. - Jonghyun
Even though Korea lost both of their games at the OQT and all five at the World Cup last year, the experience was a golden one for Jonghyun.
"Yes, it was extremely difficult for me and the Korea team at the FIBA Basketball World Cup," he said.
"The positive thing that I could draw from the tournament was that I could obtain valuable and unforgettable experience that could be a driving force for my future basketball life."
Jonghyun will again be a key man for Korea when they compete at the FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha-Hunan in China from 23 September to 3 October and try to clinch a spot in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.