A rewarding exercise every college basketball season is discovering the new wave of talent in the sport, particularly outside the high-major level.
Davidson, N.C., is often the epicenter of this talent haul, and Bob McKillop’s program appears to have found a diamond in the rough once again in Hyunjung Lee.
Here are five fast facts you need to know about the Davidson breakout star:
He’s off to a red-hot start this season
Lee has been absolutely scorching from the field to kick off his sophomore campaign.
The 6-7, 210-pound wing is tallying 17.4 points an outing through nine games. His offensive efficiency, however, is where he has shined on a national scale.
Lee is shooting a stunning 52.8 percent from deep this year and his 28 made 3-pointers ranks second in the Atlantic 10. For reference, a player like Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert is maintaining a 50.8 percent clip on 31 total makes. Lee can shoot the ball from the perimeter as well as anyone nationally, and Davidson is 5-1 when Lee hits at least four triples dating back to last season.
He is more than just a knockdown shooter, though. The Atlantic 10 all-freshman honoree also ranks in the league’s top 20 in assists, rebounds, blocks, minutes and usage rage and leads the conference in win shares and box plus/minus. He’s doing everything he can to help guide the Wildcats in a crowded A10 hunt.
He comes from a long line of international Davidson players
Bob McKillop hits the international market as much as any coach in D-I basketball. This year’s Wildcats team features six foreign-born players, a number that is fairly standard for the Davidson program.
Lee, a native of Yongin City, South Korea, is next in line. Born on Oct. 23, 2000, Lee became just the second Korean-born Division-I player in 2019 after Maryland’s Jin Soo Choi paved the way back in 2008. Choi played sparingly with the Terrapins, making Lee arguably the most accomplished South Korean-born college basketball player already, and he’s just nine games into his sophomore season.
Prior to arriving at Davidson, Lee was enrolled at the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia, where he began to receive attention on the recruiting trail. With frequent trips back to the States for high school showcase events, Lee became fluent in English while continuing to prove his worth as a legitimate Division-I prospect.
He models his game after Warriors star Klay Thompson
The perimeter-oriented Golden State Warriors have had a lasting impact on young international prospects and American players alike. This is especially the case for Lee, who narrowed his recruiting search down to Davidson and Washington State, which, of course, is where Golden State’s “Splash Brothers” Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson attended college.
“I knew about Davidson because Steph Curry was from there and also Bob McKillop,” Lee told the Charlotte Observer. “That was my dream. But I also visited Washington State, Klay Thompson’s school. I decided on Davidson because of how unselfish they are. They play smart basketball and are a good fit for me.”
“I’m trying to play like Klay Thompson with off the ball moves, defense and shooting balance,” Lee told 247Sports back in 2019. “My strengths are shooting, off the ball moves, and leading the team. I’m getting better.”
Defensive development will be key towards pro potential
Already with an impressive scoring skill set, Lee’s defensive ability will determine his growth in the Atlantic 10 as well as at the next level.
Recruiting analysts and draft gurus frequently noted his impressive shooting stroke while also maintaining Lee’s need to become a better all-around defender. “Gaining strength will be a big part of Lee’s development, especially on the defensive end,” said 247Sports’ Josh Gershon during Lee’s recruitment.
Lee is far from a poor defender, especially given he already has more blocks than all of last season and is right around the national average in defensive BPM. But at 6-7 with a guard-like repertoire, Lee will be tasked with challenging defensive assignments throughout his career. He has put on roughly 30 points since being pursued by Washington State and Davidson, and a thicker frame should help prevent dribble drives and translate to better defensive rebounding.
He comes from a basketball family
Lee isn’t the only hooper from his family. His mother, Seong Jeong-a, played for the Korean team that won the silver medal in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. His father, Lee Yoon-hwan, played basketball semi-professionally and also coaches, and his older sister, Lee Ri-na, was on the Korean under-16 squad.
It should be no surprise that basketball was a major part of Lee’s upbringing, as he first expressed interest in the sport back in fourth grade. It’s safe to say he hasn’t looked back since.