[SPORTS] Yi Jianlian (Next Chinese Superstar in the NBA?)
- Yi Jianlian
NBA Position: SF/PF/C
Int Team: Guangdong Tigers
Hometown: Shenzhen, China
High School: Liaoning Academy
Strenghts: Unlike other Chinese big men like Yao Ming or Wang
Zhizhi, Yi is extremly athletic ... very good body type, long arms
and big hands ... hasn't stopped growing yet, is projected to reach
7-2 ... great stamina ... nice ballhandler and passer, some say he's
able to play all 5 positions ... he has great speed at running the
floor, jumps really quick and can dunk 360s ... amazing rebounder,
anticipates well ... great defender, excellent shot blocker ... left
hander with decent range ... developes more and more lowpost skills,
like a jump hook ... intelligent player, knows how to use his
physics ... battled fellow Draft prospect Ha Seung-Jin to a
standstill, although Ha has almost three years, three inches and 70
pounds on Yi ... at the age of 15 he literally dominates 18-19 years
old players, as he did at the Junior World Championships in
Greece ... if you think of how good he'll be by the time he enters
the NBA Draft (likely 2006 or later), it's hard to image he'd be
something other than the first pick overall
Weaknesses: Still raw, because he didn't play organised basketball
till the age of 13 ... has to learn the fundamentals of the game ...
unpolished yet, especially on the offensive end ... needs to refine
his postmoves ... too thin to hold a place in the paint, needs to
develope muscles ... questions about his real age, some say he was
born in 1985
Notes: He played at the U18 Tournament in Mannheim, Germany and
averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks mostly against players
who are 3 years older than him. Dominated again at the U19 World
Championships in Thessaloniki, Greece with 18.9 points and 11.5
rebounds per game.
Made his first game in the CBA in December 2002, becoming the
youngest player to ever player in Chinas highest league. Played only
few minutes for Chinas top-team Guangdong, earned CBA Rookie of the
Year honors, though.
His team Guangdong Hongyuan used to train him as a guard when he was
not very tall, so he has very good ball handling skill and shooting
touch for his size. Superb body coordination ... very good 1-on-1
player (he played streetball before recruited by Guangdong team).
Probably the best leaper in China, can throw down wind-mill dunks
easily. His style is a lot like KG's. He has played both PF and
Center potision in the CBA. A very good shot blocker, he swats the
ball hard enough to make the fans crazy. When playing a bigger
defender, he's able to dribble, spin, and outquick his defender. He
can also back down weaker opponents, although he's usually one of
the skinniest guys on the court. He also has the potential to play
at SF position but might have problems staying with quick American
-Scouting Report from Xiang Long translated by Shawn
He is a good athlete with the right size, and shows soft touch and
also silky moves playing on the outside. He just has to add weight.
He is able to make several leaps in a few seconds and watching him
practice, Yi shows the ability to hit a pull up mid range jumper as
well as from the long distance. He is only fifteen years old, and
there is a long way till the NBA, but he is guy to follow in the
The Next Yao Ming?
Chinese player eyes big future
China start to develop next Yao Ming
Yi jumps to Great Heights
Yi no Yao, but ABCD has Chinese flavor
- translated by BasketballBoards.net member Tattoo - (Original
Chinese article: Sina Online)
Jianlian might become the next Wang Zhizhi and Yao Ming. Yi went to
ABCD Camp in the US. This was not his first trip to the US. He was
with the Chinese youth national team in the US last year. Because of
an injury to a Chinese teammate and the Europeans not coming, Yi was
the only non-American player at ABCD camp out 246 players. Several
other Chinese players went to the ABCD camp before. In his first
game in camp, Yi could not adjust to the game. He scored 1 point at
the half. The coach was angry. By 2nd half, he scored 6 points.
After 4 days at camp, he was selected to the All-Star game. His
average at camp was 5.2 rebounds per game, 6.7 pts. He was ranked
5th in the entire camp.
In the All-Star game, he scored 8 pts (4 for 9) and 5 rebounds. An
assistant coach form Phoenix Suns said that Yi is good enough for
top level NCAA teams. During his stay in the US, everybody thought
that he was Yao Ming. It mentioned all the flight attendents thought
he was Yao Ming and treated him very well. A camper at ABCD asked
him whether he was Yao Ming. After that, everyone at ABCD called
him "Ming". An old official at ABCD camp liked him very much and
gave him an English name "Sunny".
Yi was discovered in the summer of 1999. He entered a 3-on-3
tournament in Shenzhen with his friends. His team lost in the 1st
round, but he was spotted by a coach named Dai. So Coach Dai
approached Yi's parents and discovered he came from a family of
athletes. Both parents were handball players. His mother was called
into the training camp for the Chinese National team. The parents
are 1.92 meter and 1.72 meter in height. Their parents were both
athletes so they did not want their son to grew up to be one. They
explained "hardship" as the reason. Until he was spotted by Coach
Dai, Yi's father did not expect his son to be taller than 1.95
meter, and he thought his son was not good enough. Education was the
number one priorty for them. Both parents had retired to become
postal workers. They had played Amateur basketball for their unit
team. They always took their son along.
In 1999, Yi joined the sports academy in Shenzhen with the help of
Coach Dai. He trained there for a year. In 2000, Yi as a 13 years
old, joined a youth team. Then, the national youth team head coach
spotted him only a month after he joined the youth club. He began to
train with the national youth team. The national team caoch said
that he was better than Wang Zhizhi at the same age. Yi did not
showcase his talents until a Beijing camp last Spring. They was a
scout for players to be sent to ABCD camp. Yi did a 360 degree dunk
on the Slam Dunk contest.
The coach said that he improved after ABCD camp. Before the US, a
teammate named Tong (the same one who missed the ABCD camp) used to
beat him all the same. Yi could not dominate shorter players. After
the US trip, he gained confidence. His coach said that Yi would be
best at power forward. His footsteps and his turns are not bad, and
his shot is good. The next two years will be important for Yi. Yi
has not played many real games. He's only played at the All-China
youth league. The coach said Yi was unimpressive.
Yi does not know when he will play for his club team in the CBA. But
he will try his best. In the meantime, his father says that Yi
watches NBA on TV. He copies the moves by NBA players. With Tim
Duncan being his favorite player. Yi prefers to keep the immediate
task at hand which is improving every day and said that he has no
big goal for the future. Although, he aspires to be on the 2008
Chinese Olympic team.
The Next Yao Ming?
NBA scouts are scouring China for another giant with the skills of
last season's sensational rookie. This 6-ft. 11-in. teenager just
might be the one
By Brook Larmer
Posted Sunday, Sept. 21, 2003; 1.15p.m. BST
The Chinese giant was so dazzled by the lights of Las Vegas that he
didn't notice the furtive glances of the tourists gathering around
him. Trying to unwind after a few days of intense training in
August, the basketball sensation had just taken a ride on the roller
coaster atop the Stratosphere tower he was lucky there wasn't a
maximum height limit to get on and now he was gazing out over the
gaudiest stretch of urban landscape in America. He marveled at the
brightly illuminated replicas of the Eiffel Tower, the Manhattan
skyline, the dazzling fountains of Rome. "Las Vegas is the most
beautiful city in the world," he said, "especially at night." A red-
faced American tourist broke the reverie. "Hey, Yao Ming!" the man
shouted. "Yao Ming, you da man!" It was the last thing the Chinese
athlete wanted to hear. He gave a tight smile and then, as politely
as he could, he recited one of the few English phrases he has
committed to memory: "I am not Yao Ming."
Maybe not. But Yi Jianlian had better get used to the lofty
expectations. A lot of people on both sides of the Pacific are
hoping that the talented 6-ft. 11-in. teenager will be the next Yao
Ming. Ever since Yao electrified the National Basketball Association
last season as a rookie fresh out of Shanghai, a slew of agents,
scouts and shoe-company reps have been looking for a Chinese player
who can follow the large and lucrative footsteps of one of the
league's biggest draws. Yi wears size-18 shoes, just like Yao. But
it is the glimmer of his vast potential the explosive slam dunks,
the boyish good looks, even the mystery surrounding his age
(anywhere from 15 to 18, depending on whom you believe) that has
catapulted Yi beyond where Yao stood at this point in his career.
The attention is a bit overwhelming for a shy kid who started
playing ball only four years ago. "I do feel a lot of pressure,"
says Yi (pronounced Ee). "But what I need most is to learn and to
practice not to get distracted by being famous."
There are, of course, plenty of hidden treasures in the Middle
Kingdom. Aside from Yao, two other Chinese hoopsters already play in
the NBA: Mengke Bateer, a muscle-bound 6-ft. 11-in. reserve center
with the Toronto Raptors, and Wang Zhizhi, a lithe, 7-ft. 1-in.
sharpshooter with the Los Angeles Clippers. Another player, a rail-
thin center named Xue Yuyang, 20, was chosen in the second round in
June's NBA draft, but Beijing rankled by his decision to enter the
draft without official permission has refused to let him test his
mettle in America. So instead NBA scouts and agents are focusing on
the crop of younger players, ranging from Tang Zhengdong, 19, a
bruising 7-footer with an uncharacteristic taste for rough play, to
prodigy Chen Jianghua, 14, a 6-ft. 1-in. ball handler whose gravity-
defying 360û dunks look like something out of a Jet Li movie.
Nobody, though, seems a safer bet than Yi Jianlian. The son of two
former athletes his 6-ft. 5-in. father and 5-ft. 8-in. mother were
both forcibly recruited by the state to play an obscure sport known
as team handball Yi was discovered in 1999 on a playground in the
southern boomtown of Shenzhen. Barely out of grade school, he was
already 6 ft. 4 in. tall, a behemoth in a region known for its
diminutive people. Yi's parents, however, were reluctant to let the
Soviet-style sports school lay claim to their only son. "We had
endured hardships ourselves," says Yi's mother, Mai Meiling, who
like her husband works as a postal clerk. "We couldn't get good jobs
when we retired because we didn't have a good education. We wanted
more for our son." Dai Yixin, the school's veteran coach, finally
convinced the parents their son wouldn't get lost because he had all
the raw ingredients of a star: speed, flexibility, coordination,
leaping ability, size. By measuring the gaps between the bones of
his hand and tracking the growth of his genitals a Chinese-honed
indicator of height Dai predicted that the youngster would reach 6
ft. 8 in. or 6 ft. 9 in.
Still, Yi's career almost ended before it began. Halfway through his
first 400-m training run at the full-time sports school, Yi stopped
abruptly, gasping for breath, tears rolling down his cheeks. "I
wanted to quit," Yi says. "I had never lived away from home before,
and I had no idea if I could make it as an athlete." But his body
kept growing, and so did his determination to make the best of a
difficult situation. Yi still preferred watching cartoons to NBA
games, but by the time he joined Guangdong's professional Chinese
Basketball Association (CBA) team last year, he was an astonishing 6
ft. 11 in. and he could leap and touch a spot more than 11 ft. 6
in. off the ground. (The basketball rim is 10 feet high.) As Yi
mastered new skills the midrange jumper, the baby hook, the
reverse slam he attracted the attention of Adidas. Eager to loosen
Nike's hold on Chinese basketball, the shoe company flew Yi to New
Jersey for its ABCD Camp in the summer of 2002. He was the only
Chinese player there. "It was an eye-opening experience for him,"
says Guangdong junior coach Zhang Zhenming. "He came back with a
very clear vision of where he wanted to go: the NBA."
Yi Jianlian is the first to admit he's not ready for prime
time. "I'm too young and skinny," he says, his baggy denim shorts
and triple-XL Nike shirt only reinforcing his point. Yi has played
only one season, most of it riding the bench, in the CBA. But his
final regular-season game last spring offered a tantalizing glimpse
of the future. With the game heading into overtime, Yi came off the
bench to score 13 points in five minutes to seal the victory and
secure Guangdong's place atop the standings. Two weeks later, when
Guangdong played the army team for the CBA championship, the stands
were crawling with sports agents and shoe-company representatives,
all fixated on the big kid on the bench. "It's partly the Yao Ming
effect," said a shoe-company executive. "But Yi Jianlian is so
promising we would have pursued him anyway." Yi played sparingly in
the game, but he offered a fitting capstone to the season, stealing
an inbounds pass in the final seconds for a breakaway jam. At the
team's postgame meal, agents and reps crowded around the teenager,
toasting him with Tsingtao beer until his face turned beet red.
So when might Yi Jianlian don an NBA uniform? That depends on the
biggest mystery of all: his age. The national junior-team roster
says Yi was born on Oct. 27, 1987, which would make him just 15
and not eligible to enter the NBA draft independently as an
international player until 2009. Several well-placed Chinese
basketball experts say he is 17 or 18. Dates are manipulated, they
claim, to give Yi more years of eligibility for junior competitions,
which China counts on to increase its international prestige. (Age
shaving is endemic in international junior competitions. It even
affected the Clippers' Wang Zhizhi, who had NBA teams scrambling to
verify his true age to make sure he was old enough for the draft.)
Yi and his parents both say on the record that he was born in 1987.
But when pressed on the issue, Yi turns away and fills the room with
an uncomfortable silence, and his father smiles blankly without
responding. Whatever the truth, it doesn't seem to bother Nike. The
company recently beat out the competition and signed Yi to a six-
figure, multiyear deal worth far more than his actual salary and
indeed more than Yao Ming's original Nike contract. Forget about
that other guy for a minute. The klieg lights of stardom are already
starting to shine on the kid from Shenzhen.
Brook Larmer is writing a book about the rise of Chinese athletes on
the world sports stage .
Little Giant Yi Jianlian: I Want to Play NBA Basketball
Yi Jianlian, the 2.11-meter young basketball player of the Guangdong
Hongyuan team in CBA is in the limelight at the moment. When joining
in basketball training camp in the US last month, he was interviewed
by Time Magazine. Deemed as the successor of Yao Ming, Yi will
probably start a new Chinese basketball fervor in NBA.
Besides the well-known Yao Ming, there are three other Chinese
playing basketballs in NBA. They are vigorous Menk Bateer from San
Antonio Spurs, Wang Zhizhi from Los Angeles Clippers and the 20-year-
old Xue Yuyang, who has been selected by the Dallas Mavericks in the
second round of the 2003 NBA draft. But Xue won't go to the NBA due
to the disapproval of the General Administration of Sport.
Afterwards, the player-seekers transfer their attention to the much
younger players, such as 19-year-old Tang Zhengdong and 1.86-meter
Chen Jiahua, 14, whose dunks look like the behavior of the Kongfu
superstar Jet Li.
Nevertheless, all these young players are inferior to Yi Jianlian as
the talent rookie is the favorite of more insiders.
Yi Jianlian, from Shenzhen in Guangdong Province, became a
professional athlete in 1999. His father is 1.99 meters tall and his
mother is 1.73 meters. Both of them are retired handball players.
When graduating from the primary school, Yi was already 1.93 meters
tall. Generally people in the southern areas of China are
comparatively short, therefore he has been called a giant since he
was very young. At the beginning, his parents didn't want him to be
a professional for they thought professionals hold a job that lasts
only as long as their youth, and so there's nothing for them to rely
on after retirement.
"We are not the well-to-do now," Yi's mother said, with her and her
husband both employees of the post office. "We didn't get good
education when we were young, and we couldn't find a good job after
we retired. Therefore, we expect our son to be a well-educated man,
instead of a professional athlete. We don't want him to be the same
Although the parents opposed their son being an athlete at that
time, a senior coach called Dai from a sports school took a fancy to
him. Dai believed that Yi Jianlian has everything of an ideal
physique: speed, flexibility, harmonization, fine jumping capacity
as well as outstanding height. Furthermore, after a series of
special examinations, Dai also predicted that Yi Jianlian could grow
to a height of 2.03 meters to 2.06 meters. In the end, Dai persuaded
Yi's parents to let him go to the sports school for a try.
However, the road for Yi to become a professional basketball player
was not smooth for his career almost stopped at the beginning. In
the first 400-meter-running test in the school, Yi gave up when he
only finished half way. He felt very sick and was not able to
overcome the physical limitation. He complained, "I can't stand any
more. Before I came to the sports school, I'd never tried to leave
home for a long time. I never dreamed of becoming a basketball
Over time, Yi grew up and was gradually fond of playing basketball.
He made up his mind to overcome his temporary difficulties and
become an excellent basketball player. Since then Yi has been
fascinated by the magic NBA and many related products, such as
cartoons and video games about the NBA.
When Yi Jianlian joined the Guangdong Hongyuan team in the CBA
league (China's Basketball Association), his height amazingly
reached 2.11 meters. He was capable of jumping and touching a height
of 3.51 meters while the ring was only 3.16 meters tall. At that
time, Yi had been a wonderful center that mastered many skills, like
perimeter shooting, hook shooting, reverse dunk and so on. That's
why Adidas, the world well-known sports product enterprise, would
embrace him. In order to compete with its primary rival Nike, the
sponsor of China's national team, Adidas invited Yi to join the ABCD
basketball training camp in New Jersey in 2002. Yi was the only
member from China. The trip was an eye-opener for Yi and helped him
for the first time set the goal of playing basketball in NBA.
"I'm still very young and thin," Yi said. Only playing one season in
the league, and spending most of his time on the substitute bench,
Yi knows that he has a long way to go. However the last game in the
regular season really surprised the audience and made people believe
Yi had a bright future. When the game entered overtime, Yi finally
got the chance to substitute and grabbed 13 points in five minutes
which ensured a victory for his team and the No.1 place in the
league. Although his performance in the final was rather
conservative, Yi did contribute the best moment in the season:
stealing the ball in the last several seconds, running, and leaving
others behind him, finishing with a monster dunk.
When will Yi Jianlian access NBA? It depends on the most mysterious
thing about Yi: his age. The coach of Chinese National Junior Team
said Yi was born on Oct 27, 1987, which means he is only 16 and has
to wait till 2009 to be qualified for entering the NBA draft. While
some Chinese experts hold that Yi is 18 or 19 years old now. Whether
the information of his age is true won't affect Nike's interest
towards Yi. The company has defeated other business rivals and
signed a six-year contract with Yi. The value of the contract is
more expensive than the salary he gets now. It even surpasses the
contract that Nike signed with Yao Ming at first. Today, Yi Jianlian
has attracted the attention of people on both sides of the ocean.
Will he become the genuine successor of Yao Ming and start a whole
new Chinese fervor in the NBA? Let's just wait and see.
Chinese player eyes big future
Fifteen-year-old Yi travels far to hone skills at Newell's Big Man
By STEVE CARP
Yi Jianlian, working out Tuesday at Cox Pavilion during a session at
Pete Newell's Big Man Camp, was the Chinese Basketball Association's
rookie of the year last season.
They've come from all over to learn from the master.
From Rhode Island to Oregon, Atlanta to Los Angeles, 80 players came
to Las Vegas to spend 15 hours with Pete Newell this week and gain
some wisdom from the Hall of Fame basketball coach. But no one has
traveled farther than Yi Jianlian.
Yi, at just 15 years old, is a 7-foot, 220-pound forward who has
been playing basketball for only four years. But his potential is so
vast that his team sent him from China to take part in Newell's Big
Man Camp at Cox Pavilion.
"It's important for my future," Yi said through an interpreter. "In
just one day, I learned a lot about basketball technique, but I have
much to learn."
In a country that has gone crazy for basketball with Yao Ming's
emergence in the NBA, Yi is looked at in some respects as China's
answer to LeBron James. He's young and talented, and he figures to
get better with experience. He has impressed the coaches at Newell's
camp, and Newell said Yi has a bright future.
"I don't know who coached him in China, but he's extremely well-
taught," Newell said. "He's fundamentally sound. He plays low to the
floor, and he uses his length effectively. They've done a very good
job with him."
Yi, from Shenzhen in Guangdong Province, plays for the Guangdong
Tigers club team. Despite his age, he played in the Chinese
Basketball Association last season and was named the league's rookie
of the year. Yi could be a key figure in basketball five years from
now, when his country hosts the 2008 Olympics.
"It is a dream of mine to play in the Olympics in my homeland," Yi
said. "It would be a great honor to represent my country. Hopefully,
I'll get an opportunity."
Yi has represented China in international competition, having played
in last month's World Junior Basketball Championships in Greece. He
might find himself back in Greece next summer for the Olympics if
his development continues.
Yi was 12 when he first picked up a basketball, playing in a 3-on-3
tournament in Shenzhen. He said the game came naturally to him,
which isn't surprising because his parents were athletic, competing
in team handball.
And as he grew, Yi's desire to compete increased. He was enrolled in
a sports school to aid his development. His ultimate goal is to join
Yao in the NBA.
"He was a good choice to represent China in the NBA," Yi said of
Yao, who is preparing for his second season with the Houston
Rockets. "We all look up to him, and I hope to one day play in the
Yi might not have a command of the English language, but he's a
quick learner. He has his interpreter on the floor with him as he
goes through the drills at the Big Man Camp, and when one of the
coaches needs to explain something, he seems to understand what's
"The coaching here is very good," Yi said. "I need to come here
Yi was fascinated by the bright lights of Las Vegas.
"I love this city, so much excitement all the time," he said. "But
how come there's no NBA team here?"
It was explained to Yi that because people can bet on NBA games,
commissioner David Stern has been reluctant to endorse putting a
franchise in Las Vegas. Yi seemed confused about the sports book
concept, but appeared to know that betting on NBA games exists.
"Ah, gambling," he said, nodding.
Apparently, the Chinese government doesn't see Yi's presence at
Newell's camp this week as a gamble. Yi's team, the CBA and the
government all signed off on the trip, which is being paid for by
the government. The NCAA need not worry, since it's doubtful Yi will
play college basketball. But there were several college coaches on
hand this week fantasizing over what it would be like to have Yi in
Instead, Newell predicts Yi will wear an NBA uniform soon.
"I think you'll be reading a lot about him two, three years from
now," he said.