Is there such a thing having as too many emaciated-looking 7-foot big men from Eurasia? Not as far as I'm concerned. Our next "Know the Prospect" subject is Zhou Qi, an intriguing big man from my former adopted homeland, the People's Republic of China.
(Note: I thought we'd straightened this shit out during Yao Ming's career, but they screw it up in one of the video's below so I will remind you that "Zhou" is his family name, just as "Flynn" is my family name. Don't refer to him as "Qi" -- it would be weird. By the way, the name is pronounced "Joe Chee".)
Roughly 80% of Zhou's body is comprised solely of wingspan -- he measured 7'7.75" at the NBA combine, just shy of the record set by Rudy Gobert (7'8"). By some miracle he is simultaneously longer and thinner than our own Unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis. He does share with Kristaps a surprising level of mobility and shot-blocking, but he is extremely raw and lacking in shooting touch.
Here's are some nice DraftExpress compilations of Zhou's strengths:
U.S. colleges started looking into Zhou right around the time he put up 41 points, 28 rebounds, and 15 blocks against Germany in the FIBA U-16 World Championships, but Zhou elected instead to go pro in his homeland, signing with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers.
That isn't to say he stayed home exactly. Zhou is from Henan, in the developed Eastern part of the country, and he played his pro ball in Urumqi -- closer to Kyrgyzstan than any other part of China:
Urumqi is a weird-ass city. It is the most landlocked major city on Earth, 1,600 miles from the nearest coastline. The climate is absurdly variant, with an average high temperature of 86 degrees in July and an average low of 2 degrees in January. Oh, and it is a regular on the lists of World's Most Polluted Cities.Throw in the sporadic ethnic tension between the native Uighur people and the Han Chinese moving in from the east, and it can be quite wild. On the other hand, Uighur food might be the best food on Earth, so they have that going for them.
And who were Zhou's teammates in Urumqi? He has played two seasons with Andray Blatche, and a magical five-game stretch with both Blatche and Jordan Crawford. Imagine playing in the Wild West of China as an 18-year-old, traveling with Crawford and Blatche. This kid has seen some shit, yo!
Zhou is destined for either the end of the first or beginning of the second round, so it would take a pretty decent trade to get him. Would the front office even consider drafting yet another future center? Never underestimate the Knicks' unquenchable thirst for bigness.