+ A

Oh returns to court, sweeps MVP award

Basketball star says he was inspired by his promises to his father
Mar 29,2017
이미지뷰
Through injuries and hardship, Oh Se-keun, a sixth year professional in the KBL, won the MVP award on Monday. [PARK JONG-GEUN]
이미지뷰
Few players would be able to return to competitive ball from a torn tendon or broken ankle, much less both, but after tearing his tendon in 2012 and fracturing his ankle in 2014, Oh Se-keun not only came back to the court but went on to become the top player in the Korean Basketball League (KBL).

Oh, a center for Anyang KGC, won the 2016-17 regular season MVP award, winning 65 of the 101 points, at the Grand Hyatt in Yongsan District, central Seoul, on Monday. This was his second award since his professional debut in 2011, when he won the Rookie of the Year award.

“I want to thank my teammates, Lee Jeong-hyun and Yang Hee-jong,” Oh said. Throughout the regular season, Oh has averaged 13.98 points and 8.37 rebounds.

“I’ve reached my ultimate bottom and made my self back up on top,” Oh said. “Records are important but I am happier about the fact that I was able to play in all the games this season without injuries.”

When Oh made his first professional debut in 2011, he caught everyone’s attention as a rising star and was expected to continue the legacy of “Big Man,” Seo Jang-hoon or Kim Joo-sung. Oh started his athletic career as a bowler in elementary school. At the time, he was ranked among the top junior bowlers in the country.

He started playing competitive basketball in middle school, when he was already 1.93 meters (6 feet 3 inches) tall. With his born natural athletic ability, he made himself known in national events in high school. And during his senior year at Chung-ang University, Oh became the first basketball player in the university basketball league to achieve a quadruple double, scoring 14 points with 18 rebounds 13 assists and 10 blocks. From his successful college basketball career, Oh was picked first by the Anyang KGC in the 2011 Rookie Draft.

“I will exceed Kim Joo-sung and Seo Jang-hoon,” Oh said when he got drafted in 2011.

During his first year in the KBL, Oh won the Rookie of the Year award in the regular season and was the MVP in the championship game. Despite his successful debut, Oh started going downhill in his second season. He tore his tendon during training and had to undergo surgery, which led him to miss the entire 2012-13 season.

In 2014, Oh fractured his ankle bone. Right after the 2015-16 season, he had surgery to remove a small piece of bone from his left knee.

“It was a lot more disappointing because I never had any major injuries until my college career,” Oh said.

Since his professional debut, Oh has not spent a season without injury. In addition to his injuries, he was banned for 20 games due to his involvement in sports gambling from his college career. As a result of this, many said Oh was done as a basketball player.

“It was a very hard time for me too,” Oh said. “Injury was a fight against me. I couldn’t bring back my body condition to where it was before. I had lots of criticisms and cried many tears.”

When Oh reached bottom, he looked back on his career and remembered his promise to his father.

Initially, Oh’s parents strongly opposed his athletic career but he persuaded his father with two promises. One was to never give up and the other was to retire when he was at the top. Remembering his promises, Oh decided to return to the court.

“Through rehabilitation, I learned that basketball is what I can do the best in,” Oh said. “And I became desperate for basketball. My promises to my dad were a strong driving force for me to continue my basketball career.”

BY KIM JI-HAN [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]