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Profile of Chinese basketball player Zhou Qi


06-24-2016 16:14 BJT

Since Zhou Qi was selected in the second round of the NBA Draft, rather than the first, his contract with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers actually precludes him from heading to the US. It is not known how much his current club might be willing to negotiate on this clause, but the Houston Rockets will definitely try, and their past success working with Yao Ming won't hurt their case. Damion Jones breaks down how the 20-year-old first caught the attention of observers at home, and how he turned heads internationally with a breakout performance at last year's FIBA Asia Championship.

As Zhou Qi prepared for this year's NBA Draft, the 20-year-old became the first Chinese player to participate in the process since 2007. Yi Jianlian and Sun Yue both entered the National Basketball Association's selection scheme nine years ago, but both were older than the lanky center.

At the age of 16, the Henan Province native helped the PRC youth team finish seventh at the Under-17 World Championships, pouring in 14 points per game, and ending up as the only player to average double digit rebounds in the tournament.

His height and athleticism attracted the attention of several American universities, but Zhou ended up signing a deal with the CBA's Xinjiang Flying Tigers in 2014. Playing a key role on both ends of the floor, the 7-2 big man helped his squad reach the semi-finals in this past winter's league playoffs. His full season averages of 15.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per contest earned him accolades as China's most talented pivot since Yao Ming.

Zhou has also proven himself to be a key player on the national team, helping Gong Luming's squad win the FIBA Asia Championship on home soil last fall. He averaged 9.9 points, six rebounds, and two blocks in nine games. In addition to helping his nation lift the trophy, Zhou also edged out Iranian big man Hamed Haddadi as the best center at the competition in Changsha, and that helped reinforce the Chinese pivot's confidence that he was ready for the NBA Draft. 

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