Despite the fact that he has played for just 12 minutes at the ongoing Nike Hoop Summit due to an ankle injury, Zhou Qi has attracted the attention of scouting experts and is expected to be drafted into the NBA this year or in 2016.
Experts say that Zhou is one of the most exciting NBA prospects to emerge from China since the signing of Yao Ming in 2002. The former Xinjiang Flying Tigers player, who is just 19 years old, is 7-foot-2 tall, weighs 209 pounds and has an incredible wingspan of 2.30 meters wide.
During his short appearance on the court at the Nike Hoop Summit, Zhou displayed remarkable defensive skills. But experts say that his offensive game is lacking.
Many had expected Zhou to execute some of the inch-perfect free throws that he demonstrated on his first day of practice. But it seems that every time he attempted to make a shot, the ball was stolen.
Critics say that the main weaknesses of his game are his weight and strength. Yao Ming, who is only fractionally taller than Zhou, weighs about 100 pounds more than the rookie.
Nonetheless, if Zhou can somehow manage to bulk up and improve his game, experts say he could be ready to join the NBA as soon as the next draft picks in June. Of course, this is a big gamble for any team to make on the teenager.
Reports indicate that Zhou's favorite player in the NBA is Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard. When people also consider the fact that Yao Ming played for the same team, experts say this makes the Rockets the most likely destination in the NBA for Zhou. The Rocket's defense game could definitely benefit from the defensive abilities of someone like Zhou. Nonetheless, it is unclear if the team deems him ready to enter the NBA this year.