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Coach Huh Jae’s Background, Prospects

Posted May. 16, 2005 23:31,   


“Basketball Master” Huh Jae (40) will be returning to Korean professional basketball as the coach for KCC.

KCC announced on May 16 that Huh Jae will fill KCC’s empty position left by coach Shin Sun-woo when he moved to LG. At the end of the 2003~2004 season, Huh Jae retired from professional basketball after playing for 30 years. He was last on the TG Sambo team. He then went on to the United States as an honorary coach for Pepperdine University. Coach Huh will return to Korea on May 17 and hold a press conference at the exhibition hall at the KCC head office in Seocho-dong on May 18. Huh Jae and KCC have yet to make specific agreements on a contract.

Huh Jae’s nicknames, “Basketball Master” and “Basketball King,” show that he is the golden boy of Korean basketball. His reputation as a superstar helped him secure his appointment as the KCC coach, but there was another factor, the fact that he is an alumnus of Yongsan High School. KCC founder and honorary chairman Chung Sang-young and his son, chairman Chung Mong-jin, are both graduates of Yongsan High and are both passionate about supporting their alma mater. The younger Chung, a huge basketball fan, is said to have said, “if we can’t have coach Shin, I would like to hire Huh Jae.” when former coach Shin Sun-woo, also a Yongsan High alumnus, was not yet sure of where he was going.

Whether Coach Huh will be as spectacular in coaching as he was in playing is still a mystery. Although from 1998-1999 he was a playing coach for six seasons, he was on the court a lot more and he has not been in the United States for a full year, so his experience as coach is very limited. However TG Coach Chun Chang-jin, who has known Huh Jae for years, said, “He has plenty of experience as a player in domestic and foreign games. I think he will be fine.”

Coach Huh is the youngest coach out of all nine teams in the league, excluding the currently coach-less Etland Blackslamer. The youngest age one has become coach is 35, which is when Yoo Jae-hak, the current Mobis coach, became the youngest coach in the history of KBL as the Daewoo coach.

Choi In-sun, the head of the KBL’s Technical Committee, worked with Huh Jae as Kia’s novice coach during the 1997 and 1997-1998 seasons. He said, “Huh Jae’s greatest asset is his charisma. If he uses his determination with his experience, he will become a great coach.”

Chang Jeon jeon@donga.com