By Yoon Chul
Unable to balance the rigors of a university education and a basketball career, Choi Jin-soo, Korea's first NCAA basketball player has decided to leave the University of Maryland and return to Korea.
"It is really hard to do both ― play basketball and study," Choi told Korean basketball magazine Jump Ball.
"Studying causes me a lot of stress. I only want to play basketball, I don't want to have to think about studying," added Choi.
The 20-year-old has struggled academically and failed a class, which could result in a two-month suspension beginning Jan. 22.
The sophomore is now hoping to play professionally in Korea and has already contacted the Korean Basketball League (KBL) about the 2010 draft. However, the deadline for players to enter the 2010 draft was Dec. 3. The league committee plans to meet to determine whether to make an exception for the 2.03-meter small forward.
If the KBL does not allow him to enter the draft, he could transfer to a university in Korea, which would come with complications because he did not complete his second year in the United States.
The addition of Choi, one of the brightest young stars of Korean basketball, to any KBL team would be a significant move that would have a big impact.
But Choi has been the victim of some unfortunate circumstances, which have made it difficult for him to succeed. He missed time at school to train with the national team, but it was not time well spent. He was called up twice but did not get a chance to play in any international matches before he was dropped from the team.
National team officials have been criticized for poorly handling the talented young player, who was first named to the team as a 19-year-old.