By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, March 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korean basketball player Lee Hyun-jung's first trip to the top U.S. college tournament lasted just one game
Lee and his 10th-seeded Davidson College Wildcats lost to No. 7 seed Michigan State Spartans 74-73 in West Region's first round match in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina, on Friday (local time).
In his "March Madness" debut, Lee struggled from the field, shooting only 4-of-11 for 11 points, to go along with four rebounds and four assists. Lee shot 3-of-7 from downtown, including one with less than a second remaining that proved too little, too late for his team.
Lee, 21, was the second South Korean man to appear in a March Madness game, joining former Maryland player Choi Jin-soo in 2009.
The normally sharp-shooting Lee has been a far more accomplished player than Choi. As a sophomore last season, Lee became the first Wildcat to put up the coveted 50-40-90 shooting numbers: 50.8 percent from the field, 44.2 percent from the three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line.
This season, Lee averaged a career-high 16 points and six boards per game. He played an average 32 minutes over 33 games, though his shooting percentages went down across the board. He was named to Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team this season.
Lee comes from a basketball family. His mother, Seong Jeong-a, helped South Korea to the silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. His father, Lee Yun-hwan, played semi-pro hoops in the 1980s and has been a prominent high school coach since retiring in 1991.
Lee, listed at 6-foot-7 and 210 pounds, is regarded as a potential second round choice in the upcoming National Basketball Association (NBA) draft. Lee is one of five finalists for the Julius Erving Award this year, presented to college basketball's top small forward.
Only one South Korean, 7-foot-3 center Ha Seung-jin, has played in the NBA so far.