Gangnam Samsung forward Yoochan Kim, the brightest star in Asia’s U12 Division

It worked on the Asian stage. Gangnam Samsung U12’s Kim Yoo-chan shined brightest among Asia’s primary school basketball hopefuls.

The Gangnam Samsung team wrapped up the four-day Asia Youth Basketball Championship 2024 in Chungju, South Korea, from Thursday (Nov. 15) to Sunday (Nov. 18). After sweeping the trophies at home and abroad last year with a strong U12 squad, Gangnam Samsung tasted sweet victory in this Asian tournament as well.

At the center of Gangnam Samsung’s heyday was Kim Yoo-chan. Kim, who is about to enter middle school, was the ace of the Gangnam Samsung team, using his speed, solid fundamentals, and offensive instincts to make up for his lack of height at over 180 centimeters. He won MVP honors at the tournament, proving his competitiveness against overseas teams.

“I’m so happy to win the last and highest-level Asian tournament in the primary division,” Kim said, “I’ve won domestic and Japanese tournaments before, but to win against the best teams in Asia is really special. It was especially nice to meet Japan’s KAGO again in the finals after losing to them in the preliminaries and have a great battle,” said Kim.

Long forward Yoochan Kim spent much of his childhood overseas. He grew up in the United States and Canada before arriving in South Korea in the fourth grade, where he was first introduced to basketball.

A student at the Korean International School (KIS), Kim says, “Through the Gangnam Samsung Little Thunders, I was able to interact with Korean friends and adapt to life in Korea. “At first, Korea was unfamiliar to me, but the basketball experience and my teammates at Gangnam Samsung really helped me. My friends, Mr. Innam, and the coaches are like my family now,” he said affectionately.

Gangnam Samsung’s U12 squad ready to take on the U13 squad after the primary tournament. Now, they won’t be together. Kang Hyun-mook is off to Yongsanjoong to play elite basketball, and Jung Woo-seok is off to the Netherlands.

Kim Yoo-chan said, “I’m proud of the way we finished the last tournament of the elementary school. I’ll be cheering for Hyunmuk and Woo-seok for all the best, and the rest of us will try to become a championship team that is good at studying and basketball. I will continue to do my best in the Gangnam Samsung jersey,” he concluded, revealing his aspirations.

In 2023, the Gangnam Samsung U12 team and Kim Yoo-chan won the domestic and international tournaments. While some players are leaving the team, it will be interesting to see if they can stay at the top.


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