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[SPORTS] Yi Jianlian (Next Chinese Superstar in the NBA?)

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  • madchinaman
    Yi Jianlian Birthdate: 10/27/87 NBA Position: SF/PF/C Ht: 7-0 Wt: 230 Int Team: Guangdong Tigers Hometown: Shenzhen, China High School: Liaoning Academy
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 14, 2004
      Yi Jianlian
      Birthdate: 10/27/87
      NBA Position: SF/PF/C
      Ht: 7-0
      Wt: 230
      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

      -Stefan Lorenz

      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
      perimeter players.

      -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

      -Romano Pettiti

      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
      as us."

      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

      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
      NBA, too."

      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
      being taught.

      "The coaching here is very good," Yi said. "I need to come here
      every year."

      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.
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