19-year-old phenom Park Ji-Su is ready to represent her nation in the WNBA
For fans of the Las Vegas Aces, the upcoming season will be an exciting and promising one. With back-to-back number one picks in Kelsey Plum and A’ja Wilson and the recent signing of uber-flashy former All-Star Game MVP Shoni Schimmel as well as their move from San Antonio to glitzy Las Vegas, hopes are high for the newly-relocated team. Lost in the shuffle however, was the selection of Asia’s top young prospect, the 6-foot-5 Park Ji-Su who has managed to work her way onto the Aces’ opening night roster from the second round of the 2018 WNBA Draft.
At just 19 years of age, Park has been on the radar of WNBA scouts for many years. As the daughter of former Korean national center Park Sang-Kwan and volleyball player Lee Soo-Kyung, the youngster was a star from the get-go. She averaged almost a double-double along with a tournament-best 3.9 blocks per game as a 14-year-old playing in the U17 World Championship before making her senior national team debut the next year at the tender age of 15. She left a striking first impression on the international scene, averaging 11 and 5 against seasoned opponents at the 2014 FIBA World Championship.
Following her school years, she signed her first professional contract with the Cheongju KB Stars in the Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL) at 17 and made her case for the WNBA by averaging a double-double in the league. The Aces are a perfect fit for the young center, with the legendary Pistons big man Bill Laimbeer as her new head coach and former WNBA and KB Stars center Kelly Schumacher also on the coaching staff. Laimbeer has lauded the rookie for her energy, basketball IQ and refined skill set, rewarding her with a roster spot despite Park playing the same position as the highly-touted Wilson.
With her frame and her excellent mobility, Park will look to first contribute on the defensive end and on the boards. On offense, she has displayed a patient and mature post game as well as a smooth outside stroke, which should bode well for her future. Having achieved her first goals of making the team and playing in the WNBA, Park will aim to do her nation proud by securing a lengthy career at the elite level.