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Korea’s Next Hoops Star in Making

Posted January. 06, 2007 06:47,   


2006 was a difficult year for Daniel Sandrin. He left the U.S. for Korea, his mother’s home country, to get a better chance to pursue his career in basketball. After coming to Korea, he didn’t even have many chances to strut his stuff.

His Korean name is Lee Dong-joon. He is very good looking (6’6’’/211lbs), good at dunk shots, quick and strong. He was said to be the best prospect in the draft.

He was a professional player in Europe, which prevented him from playing in college teams. He was born in the U.S and his father, who was a basket player, served in the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK). His brother Eric is an active basketball player. So his family is a basketball family, so to speak. Daniel started playing basketball at the age of 6. He says without hesitation “basketball is most important thing in my life.”

Even though he became a player for Yonsei University last March, he was not able to play because he was not Korean and could not formally be registered as a player. He was naturalized in Korea last June and got the Korean name, Lee Dong-joon.

After getting Korean citizenship, he thought everything would work out well. However, the fact that he was a professional player in Germany and Luxemburg after college graduation in America kept him from playing in college leagues.

Last September when Yonsei University was playing against Korea University, Korea University objected to his participation in games. As a result he was not allowed in and the two teams were angry and in the end a violent scuffle broke out during a basketball match. After twists and turns, he finally got the green light and was allowed in the National Games last October. In a match against Dankook University, he showed his skills, including slam dunks with both hands. He ended up scoring 30 points, leading his team to a victory.

In a game against Kyung Hee University, he played against Kim Min-soo, a mixed-ancestry player who is already a member of national team. Although Kyung Hee won the game with Kim Min-soo scoring more points than Lee, Lee had more rebounds and blocks.

Yonsei University coach Park Geon-yeon said, “I am not happy because I can’t have Lee, who is going pro, on my team, but he is a player who has what it take to pull Korea’s National Basketball League out of its slump.”

Going pro after the draft next month-

Lee went to America, where he is honing his skills. He is coming back to Korea on January 25 to take part in the draft.

In an email interview we asked Lee, “What do you think of Kim Min-soo?” He replied, “He is smart and hard-working player. If I have a chance to play against him, I will do my best. I would go to any team where I can learn Korea. I will give my best shot to win victory for any team I will play for. This is my goal for 2007.” Lee said.