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The Next Yao Ming?

Thursday, 17th February 2011 ~ Maggie ~ Link ~ Comments (5)

Zhou Qi, carrying a championship cup and huge new expectations back to China.
Zhou Qi, carrying a championship cup and huge new expectations back to China.
That's what Chinese sports media are calling Zhou Qi (周琦), after he carried China's U16 basketball team to the championship at a youth tournament in Turkey earlier this week. Zhou's breakout performance was in the semifinal against Germany – the 2.15-meter (7-foot) center poured in 41 points, grabbed 28 rebounds and swatted away 15 shots. Zhou had a little extra time to produce in that game, which went into three overtimes before China won, 94-90. He posted 30 points and 17 rebounds in a one-point win over Turkey in the final, and averaged 21 points, 10 rebounds and 5.4 blocks over the course of the seven-game tournament.

"Why hasn't China produced an NBA star since Yao Ming?" is one of the questions I get asked a lot. It's usually a rhetorical question, followed up with a tally of all the flaws of Chinese basketball. It's also a question that carries a greater sense of urgency now that Yao's career is fading fast thanks to injuries.

Basketball writer Yang Yi of Titan Sports News is urging a little restraint ("Next Yao Ming" is a mistake), pointing out that the tournament was an invitational, not a marquee international event, and not a good gauge of how Zhou stacks up against the world's best in his age group (assuming he is even really under 16). Yang also shares some less impressive Zhou statistics: He weighs 83 kilos (183 pounds) and can bench press a wimpy 40.5 (89 pounds).
Put some meat on those bones.
Put some meat on those bones.

See some Zhou highlights here (the Germany game) and here (the Turkey game).

Zhou Qi in the airport image: CQnews.com
Zhou in Turkey game image: sinaimag.cn

Tags: basketball, Yao Ming, Zhou Qi