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Bruso drafted No. 3 by Korean team

Steve Yingling

The South Shore has it covered as far as sports drafts go in 1997.

First, Mike Crawford was drafted by the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins in April and then Jordan Romero was taken in the 15th round by Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles in June. On Wednesday, Brian Bruso found a home to practice professional basketball in Korea.

Bruso, who was an inside force during South Tahoe High’s state championship run in 1991-92, will play for Kwangju in the Korean Basketball League. Kwangju made Bruso the third overall selection in the American player draft Wednesday in Philadelphia.

“I’m happy for Brian. He’ll be set for life if he plays his cards right for the next few years,” said Tom Orlich, who coached Bruso at STHS.

Bruso’s father, Paul, reported that his son will receive a base salary of $70,000 next season and a $20,000 bonus if the team makes the playoffs. The elated father already was making plans to attend some of his sons games.

“Are you kidding? I’m going over there and checking out some games,” said Paul Bruso. “I’ll have to get ahold of a Korean dictionary.”

Bruso, a University of San Diego graduate parlayed an outstanding tryout camp in Philadelphia into a high draft selection. During one game in Philly, the 6-foot, 7-inch Bruso netted 27 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.

“Yes, his high draft position surprised me,” Orlich said. “There’s a lot of players in the country vying for those positions. It demonstrates what a great tryout he must have had.”

Each of the 10 Korean professional teams are permitted to select two American players – preferably a guard and pivot man. No American player can exceed 6-8.

“Brian has been underestimated since he was in high school. Unless you’ve coached against him, you don’t realize what a force he is,” Orlich said. “He does things beyond his potential, and when he got into his tryouts he demonstrated how good he really is. He’s lived under the shadow of Jerod (Haase) here, but when he got to San Diego he finally emerged.”

Haase wasn’t drafted by the NBA last month, but he’s trying to catch on with either the two-time defending NBA champion Chicago Bulls or Vancouver Grizzlies. Bruso is Orlich’s third player to go the pro rout overseas. Mark Suhr played pro ball in Germany and Mike Corkeron enjoyed a solid career in Australia and retired recently.

Kwangju used its other American pick to take Adonis Jordan, a Kansas Jayhawks alum. Jordan was selected 13th overall.

Paul Bruso said that the Korean draft was similar to the NBA draft in that a cap was placed on the head of each draftee and there was major media attention.

“He was pretty tickled. They don’t look at the secondary schools very often, but he played against good players and got to show what he can do,” Paul Bruso said.

The league follows NBA rules, meaning that teams can’t clog the middle of the key with a zone defense. That’s good news for Bruso.

“He might have a tremendous career overseas. Big men are always in demand and Brian is great at that kind of basketball. It’s very physical, they don’t call a lot of fouls and he can take the ball to the basket. I think he has a great future ahead of him,” Orlich said.

Kwangju is one of the five largest cities in Korea and its population exceeds one million people. Korea is slightly larger than the state of Indiana.


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