FOR a nation of almost 1.4 billion, China’s history in the NBA has been limited.
Yao Ming was a No. 1 draft pick and genuine star with the Houston Rockets during an injury-ravaged yet still Hall of Fame career. But the four other Chinese basketballers who played in the league have had little impact.
It’s been nine years since a player from China even entered the NBA Draft, when Yi Jianlian went at pick six to the Bucks but found himself back in his homeland within five seasons with career averages of 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
But a few years back a young giant with a huge wingspan emerged in the Orient, showcasing intimidating shot-blocking ability, solid ball-handling and a soft shooting touch. His name is Zhou Qi.
In the final of the 2011 FIBA Asia Under-16 championships, Qi announced himself to the world by pouring in 43 points and grabbing 19 rebounds in a 92-52 win against a helpless South Korean team.
Nicknamed “The Big Devil King”, Qi continued to grow, eventually stopping the tape at a monstrous 218cm. It wasn’t long before he was playing, and playing well, against the likes of Jianlian in the Chinese Basketball Association and becoming a key member of the senior national team. Read More