Choice of maximal words remains, KB and Kang decide to continue together
Two years ago. Two years later, Kang-isul was once again eligible for free agency, and this time, she was still the center of attention before the market even opened. This time, she chose to stay, and she signed a new three-year contract with KB Stars.
Free agency again
When Kang-isul became a free agent two years ago, there was a lot of interest in her. As the league’s best shooter entered the free agency market, teams were scrambling to sign her, and Hana OneQ, her former club, was also very determined to get her.
In the midst of such fierce competition, Kang-iul chose a new challenge. She left Hana OneQ, where she had been since her debut, and found a new home with KB Stars.
Two years later, she became a free agent once again. And she was still considered the biggest name in the game. However, the mood of the market was different then. Kang-iul’s pride had been shattered by her poor performance last season, so many expected her to re-sign with KB in order to restore her shattered pride.
As expected, Kang’s choice was to re-sign. She agreed to a three-year contract with KB for a total of 350 million won ($280 million in salary and $70 million in allowances).
“I think I was a quiet free agent, although everyone was grateful to say that I was the best, and I didn’t have any intentions of transferring, so I was able to sign a good contract amicably with KB,” she said.
“The team didn’t make the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, and I thought I was responsible for that. I felt like I was running away if I transferred, so I wanted to stay here and restore my pride with the team, so I signed the contract without much difficulty.”
According to Kang, there were no other offers for her in this market. There were opinions from other clubs that it would be polite to talk to her over a cup of coffee, but the market was definitely different from two years ago.
“There were a lot of rumors, but there was no real contact, and when I talked to KB, he would ask me to talk to him openly about things like the players’ complaints and things that needed to be improved, and I felt like he was really thinking about the players.”
“Two years ago, I think it was a time when I felt like I needed to change myself because I hadn’t been performing well, but this time, I think it was a time when I needed to redeem my pride or my honor, because I didn’t think I had a bad season to the point where I was beating myself up, but last season, I was so bad that I could count on one hand, and I was so regretful and disappointed, so I think those things were different from two years ago.”
But… What if there was a strong offer from another team…?
“I was so bad that I even thought to myself, ‘Did I make myself too lazy by playing with (Park) Ji-soo for a year, and would I be proud if I went to another team and achieved something on my own?’ But those thoughts quickly disappeared because I was so bad last season, regardless of whether I had Ji-soo or not. If there had been a strong offer, I would have thought about it, but I don’t think my choice would have changed.”
As it turned out, Kang Yi-sul chose to re-sign with KB, and her honor was restored. Shortly after the news of her re-signing became public, she received a call from head coach Kim Wan-soo asking her to join the team.
“As soon as I signed the contract, the coach called me right away after hearing the news. He asked me when I was going to join the team, because he obviously said that I could come in slowly (laughs), so I said that I would make myself better outside and then come in. He thanked me for re-signing and said that we should try to do well together again.”
Last season was a shock to everyone.
10 wins and 20 losses. That was KB’s report card last season. Everyone was shocked by the unexpected downfall of the defending champions. We knew they would struggle to some extent, but no one expected them to be this bad, so we asked them straight up. What was wrong with last season’s KB?
“It was a lot of frustration, because I felt like something was working, but it wasn’t working, I felt like we were going to win, but we weren’t going to win, the shots were going in, but they weren’t going in, and then the plays that were working weren’t working, so I think the team sagged as a whole, so it was a tough season for everyone, including me.”
While the team was a team, Kang’s individual performance was also disappointing. After averaging 18.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in her first year with KB, she struggled last season, averaging 15.2 points and 6.6 rebounds.
Most importantly, her three-point shooting percentage, her biggest weapon, plummeted to 29.9 percent, leading to a disappointing season. For reference, Kang’s three-point percentage was only in the 20s in her first two seasons and last season in 2022-2023.
Kang’s last two seasons
2021-2022: 18.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists. Three-point shooting: 42.9 percent.
2022-2023 season: 15.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. Three-point shooting: 29.9 percent.
“I really don’t know, it was just a season where I was kind of possessed by something, and I was thinking about it every day that the shots weren’t going in and I didn’t know why they weren’t going in, and as a shooter you kind of know when you take a shot and it’s going in, but it’s also coming off the rim and it’s really hard mentally, so it was a stressful, hard season.”
“I think it hurt my ego a lot, too. It’s a cautious thing to say, but we have an undisputed ace in Jisoo, and it’s not an easy thing to fill that void, but I thought I could do it to a certain extent, and as it turned out, I couldn’t fill that void, and I think that’s when all the talk around me about the players on the team went down. I felt like the 10 years of my career that I had before that was gone, and the talk around me hurt my ego a lot.
One of the biggest reasons KB struggled so much was the absence of Park Ji-soo. The team was hit with a crisis when Park was diagnosed with panic disorder before the season, and they were unable to overcome it.
There was a glimmer of hope when Park Ji-soo returned mid-season, but KB went back downhill after Park went down with a finger injury. After going 6-3 in nine games with Park Ji-soo, KB went 4-17 in 21 games without her. Coach Kim Wan-soo expressed confidence at the media day leading up to the start of the season, saying, “We will prove that Park Ji-soo’s umbrella effect was not the case,” but in the end, it didn’t work out.
“There was a lot of pressure because Ji-soo’s contribution was so big, but I thought that the rest of the players could make up for it, so I prepared hard for the season, but I think the first step was wrong. We lost the opening game against Shinhan Bank, which we were winning, in the second extension, and that game was a big blow. I think the players’ confidence dropped and it didn’t recover well. This time around, Jisoo has recovered a lot and is preparing hard, but I can’t guarantee that she’ll be able to come back fully this year, so I think it’s important not to rely on her, and I think I need to prepare better.”
“When we went to Busan for training before the season, we weren’t doing too badly, so our confidence was high, but when you look at the results, it’s like we proved that Jisoo’s umbrella effect was right, so I’m very disappointed. In a way, I think I’m the one who’s most responsible for the team not performing as well as we did. If Jisoo was out, I should have stepped up to the plate, but I didn’t, so I think the whole team faltered, so I’m very disappointed and regretful.”
As for Kang, how will she remember the past season?
“I try not to devalue myself too much, because there are some people who support me unconditionally and some people who don’t, but I think I shouldn’t bring myself down, so I try to give myself a lot of praise for doing a good job, but last season, even when I look back at myself, I don’t have anything to praise. I think it was a season where everything was really messed up.”
Giving 100% this offseason
As we continue to talk about last season, the mood becomes somber. So we changed the subject to something a little lighter. Kang Isul started the off-season a little early. How did she spend her vacation?
“First of all, I’m personally building my body by recovering the parts that weren’t good last season. In fact, I took a break at the beginning of the vacation. It was very hard, and I lost a lot of weight due to stress, so I ate well and rested, and now I’m building my body. This time, I have to be really alert and work hard.” (laughs)
Next season is a crucial one for both the KB team and Kang Yiul individually to regain their honor. Naturally, she is highly motivated for this off-season.
“People around me always say that I’m a talented player with a natural shot, but even when I think about it, I’m not the type of player who tries really hard like (Park) Hye-jin. (Laughs) But this time, I jokingly said, ‘I’m going to try my best to be a talented player!’ I’m going to try my best to prepare, and my mindset has changed a lot. I’m going to try to prepare with 100% this off-season, and I’m curious to see what kind of results I’ll get if I put in 100% effort.”
Kang also recently launched her own personal YouTube channel. The channel is called ‘Kang Yi Three Points’. She offered me a chance to promote her YouTube channel. 먹튀검증
“My biological brother works in this field, and he kept asking me to join him because my sister is a player, but I kept saying no. (Laughs) But I kept sleeping, so I made it first, but I didn’t do well when I was having a hard time, so I got scolded for not sending the video…(Laughs). So this vacation, I filmed hard, so please like, comment, subscribe, and set up notifications~~!”
Among the videos that have been uploaded so far, we asked him to name the one that he thinks is the funniest.
“There’s a video of the national team leaving the country, and it’s a little crazy(?).”
After hearing this, I immediately checked the video and found that Kang was definitely not in a sane state. If you’re curious about the video, you can check it out on Kang’s Three Points channel!
We ended the interview by asking Kang to share a message with her fans.
“Last year was a very disappointing season for us as well as our fans, but we had a lot of fans who came to see us even though our performance was not good. I am very grateful for that and I think it was the driving force that allowed us to survive in a bad situation. We will do our best to achieve good results next season, so please come to the stadium and support us~~!