Daily 49er

Long Beach State’s Anna Kim hope to cap career with Big West title

Anna Kim’s hard work may lead to a LBSU NCAA tournament appearance.

In+her+final+season%2C+senior+guard+Anna+Kim+looks+to+lead+the+women%27s+basketball+team+to+their+fifth+Big+West+Conference+title.
In her final season, senior guard Anna Kim looks to lead the women's basketball team to their fifth Big West Conference title.

In her final season, senior guard Anna Kim looks to lead the women's basketball team to their fifth Big West Conference title.

Jose De Castro

Jose De Castro

In her final season, senior guard Anna Kim looks to lead the women's basketball team to their fifth Big West Conference title.

Grester Celis-Acosta, Staff Writer

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Minutes after defeating Cal State Northridge on Thursday, senior point guard Anna Kim received several bouquets, leis and earned a standing ovation from the home crowd. It was senior night, meaning it was the final home game for the graduating seniors on the Long Beach State women’s basketball team.

Kim said earlier in the day that senior night might be her most cherished memory playing for the Beach, but when she heard the final buzzer, that was cemented.

“It is [my favorite memory],” Kim said. “You end it with a win against CSUN and obviously, we had a redemption game — and just to celebrate it with my four other seniors, you can’t replace that memory. I’m going to cherish it for the rest of my life. I didn’t cry, so that was good, but it’s just an awesome feeling to know that this is our last time playing in the [Walter Pyramid] and knowing that it ended in a win.”

Kim played high school basketball at Brea Olinda High School, where she was a four-year letter winner, named Century League co-MVP and garnered first-team all-county honors her senior year. She also led Brea Olinda to second place in the 2012 CIF-Southern Section Division IAA Championship and helped take her team to the California State Regional Finals as a sophomore.

49ers head coach Jody Wynn recalls recruiting Kim for her sheer tenacity and effort on the court.

“Her character, her toughness,” Wynn said. “A lot of people are like ‘what?’ because she doesn’t pass the eye test, but we don’t care on the eye test. She’s a winner, [it’s] her competitiveness, she competes and she doesn’t take possessions off. She’s the opposite of lazy.”

Wynn mentions that there are few players who leave a mark on the program, and Kim is one of them.

To this date, Kim’s competitiveness and toughness have stood out.

After being doubted because of her height, Kim has used that motivate her hard-working attitude to become a better basketball player.

“Being only five-feet 5-inches and [I] can’t hid behind the fact that I’m Asian…a lot of people doubted me,” Kim said. “A lot of people thought that I wasn’t good enough to play at the Division 1 level, and that was the reason why I just wanted to prove everyone wrong.

Kim’s success has come due to her work ethic and ability to out work those around her.

“[I had to] put in the work because I’m not the most athletic, I’m not the quickest player on the court, but I know that if I get up extra shots, if I work on my handles, if I work on my speed, work on my defense — that’s going to translate to improving my game,” Kim said.

Her hard work eventually paid off on Feb. 4 during a victory over UC Irvine, when she became the 25th player in LBSU history to reach 1,000 career points.

Kim said that she had no idea about the accomplishment until a couple of days later, after she received a text. Kim never thought that she would leave the Beach a thousand-point scorer.

“When I found out, I was caught off guard,” Kim said. “I had no clue until someone told me, but it was a great feeling to achieve something like that, such a great milestone. To know that my hard work has paid off. But in the end, I think as much as all the excitement was around me, all I could think about was that we still have a couple of more games left and to top it off — I need a Big West Championship, but it was a great feeling.”

 

She was also awarded on Sunday as the 2017 Big West Best Hustle Player of the Year and earned a spot in the 2017 All-Big West Conference Women’s Basketball Team.

Kim’s hard work on the court extends to her academics, as she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology in three and half years and has begun her master’s degree in sports management this spring.

Her teammate and senior Madison Montgomery echoes Kim’s hard working mentality and even adds that she is her toughest critic, but that in the end, Kim is knows how to have fun.

“She’s a goofball of the court,” Montgomery said. “She’s so funny, especially with me. We’re very goofy and we’re never not laughing. There’s never a moment where we’re around each other not poking fun at each other and cracking jokes.”

Montgomery adds that she has had too many great memories with Kim and that not one stands out over another.

Senior forward Jewelyn Sawyer, on the other hand, recalls a time where Kim played on a prank when they were roommates.

Sawyer said that because of the way Kim used to sleep it was hard to tell that she was even in bed. So, she recalls one day when she scared her by pretending voices were talking to her.

Being from Fullerton, Kim feels lucky that her parents come see her play which is something some of her teammates don’t have unless her parents watch on a live stream.  This was a reason Kim decided to come to LBSU.

“The number one thing was the family environment that was built in this program,” Kim said. “…The second most important thing was that it was close to my family. I’m definitely a daddy’s little girl and for him to be able to come watch my games was a big impact.”

Her goal now is to win the Big West Tournament and get a spot in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Afterward, Kim hopes to play basketball overseas and become a Division 1 coach.

“My hope is to play overseas,” Kim said. “I don’t think I could hang up my jersey just yet, so we’ll see how that goes for me. I’ll take whatever offer I have and however long that takes me, until my body says I can’t play anymore, [afterward], I actually want to become a Division 1 coach and maybe be in the same shoes as coach Jody. Whether it is. Here [at CSULB] or anywhere else. I know that I want to be involved with basketball, that’s a fact.

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