Basketball fans’ interest in Jeonju KCC’s homegrown ‘Big 4’ is high. KCC attracted a lot of attention before last season by signing ‘KBL idol’ Heo Woong (30‧185cm) and ‘head tiger’ Lee Seung-hyun (31‧197cm) in the free agency market at the same time. Heo and Lee were both prominent stars of their respective teams, so it was hard to imagine that even the biggest names could bring them in at once.
KCC, a team that is serious about basketball, did just that. However, the results were not as expected. With a thin roster, a lack of positional balance, and a number of weaknesses that have yet to be filled, such as the issue of foreign players, it was not easy to fully utilize the power of the two. KCC was not unaware of this. From the moment they brought in Huh-woong and Lee Seung-hyun, KCC kept their eyes on the prize.
They didn’t want to win right away, but rather wait for the return of franchise star Song Kyo-chang (27‧201.3cm), the “Jeonju Crown Prince” who is serving in the military. The combination of Heo Woong, Song Kyo-chang, and Lee Seung-hyun was enough to win the title. But there’s a twist: As the saying goes, it’s the biggest free agency market ever, and teams have been reinforcing their rosters more than ever in the offseason, creating a number of contenders, including KT and LG.
In particular, this season’s championship runner-up, SK, upgraded its lineup of Kim Sun-hyung, Heo Il-young, Choi Buk-kyung, and Jamil Warney with the return of Ahn Young-joon from military service. SK’s reinforcements didn’t stop there. They even brought in KGC’s signature star and the best homegrown big man in the country, Oh Se-geun, to create a so-called “super team” with whom they battled for the title.
KCC couldn’t stand still either. Not only did they sign Lee Ho-hyun (30‧182cm) to bolster their guard lineup, but they also brought in one of their biggest fish, Choi Jun-yong 스포츠토토 (29‧200.2cm). The salary cap, luxury tax, and other obstacles to signing high-salary players didn’t seem to bother them at all, proving why KCC is the best big hand in the league. Fans have been calling KCC and SK the “FC Barcelona and Real Madrid of the KBL,” and they’re not taking their eyes off the ball.
Since the signing of Choi Jun-yong, the KCC lineup has been called the Big 4, with Song Kyo-chang, Heo Woong, and Lee Seung-hyun. That’s a lot of weight to carry, but there’s one player who shouldn’t be forgotten: all-weather blue-walker Jung Chang-young (35‧193cm), who is known as the “light and salt of KCC” among fans.
He is known as the breadwinner of the Aegis ship after Choo Seung-gyun and Kang Byung-hyun. He has been a constant in recent seasons for KCC, a team with many variables. Jung’s biggest strength is that he can play any position and do his job no matter what. His best position is the No. 2, but his versatility has allowed him to play all-around and fill in at the No. 1-3 positions.
He’s above average at everything from leading, passing, and scoring to rebounding and hustle. He’s a player who flew under the radar before the season, but once the season got underway, he became a force to be reckoned with. Despite his young age, he plays harder than anyone else and is recognized as a player who raises the energy level of the team.
Even when Lee Jung-hyun, Song Kyo-chang, and others were holding up the fort, Jeong was affectionately known as “Shil-e” among his teammates. It’s short for “real ace” and means that he is the best player recognized by his teammates. During his time at KCC, Lee Jung-hyun often gave the thumbs-up and mouth-to-mouth praise to Chang-young, because the best partner for a goal-scoring technician is someone who can do the dirty work, and Chang-young was the epitome of that type of player.
When he joined KCC as a free agent in 2019, not many people expected him to perform at this level. At his previous club, he had a reputation for being a clumsy player who showed flashes of talent but didn’t stand out on either side of the ball. Frequent injuries also hindered his development. At KCC, however, he has become one of the most consistent players in the league, with fewer ups and downs.
In addition to a solid starting lineup, the strength of the bench is also important for a team to perform well in the long run of the regular season. Injuries, fitness issues, and other variables can happen, so a team with strong backups can do well. The same is true for KCC. While the Big 4 are a force to be reckoned with, the bench’s support is essential to compete in the top tier.
That’s where Chung Chang-young, who will come off the bench, can be even more potent. His versatility, high energy level, and experience make him very versatile. The presence of a de facto starter off the bench can make all the difference in the world for KCC. It will be interesting to see if Chung sticks around next season, especially with the compensation and compensatory player issues that came with bringing in Choi Jun-yong.