Fanbo Zeng, beforehand the No. 33 prospect within the ESPN class of 2022, instructed ESPN on Wednesday that he has signed with the NBA’s G League Ignite program and can declare for the 2022 NBA draft.
“That is the perfect and quickest technique to turn out to be a professional, and likewise get higher day by day,” Zeng instructed ESPN. “This was the perfect resolution I may make whereas I used to be in China. I am not saying the NCAA is not good — simply that the G League is one of the simplest ways for me.”
Zeng spent three years enjoying highschool basketball in Oregon and Florida however returned to China on the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, initially committing to Gonzaga over scholarship provides from Florida State, Florida, Virginia Tech and others earlier than electing to pursue the skilled route. He says he has grown 2 inches prior to now 18 months and now stands 6-foot-11, whereas weighing 198 kilos.
Regardless of being beforehand categorized as a highschool senior in america, Zeng already has accomplished his coursework to graduate highschool, agent Jiacheng Roman Liu instructed ESPN, making him eligible to enter the 2022 draft, which he plans to do.
Zeng arrived on the G League Ignite apply facility in Walnut Creek, California, final week and will probably be cleared quickly for stay motion.
Zeng is likely one of the most promising prospects to come back out of China in a while, garnering important consideration for his high-flying ending skill and 3-point capturing. He averaged 15.5 factors, 7.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and a couple of.1 assists per recreation at Windermere Prep highschool exterior Orlando, Florida, as a sophomore in 2019-20, capturing 47% from 3-point vary and establishing himself as a possible five-star recruit.
Having arrived in Oregon as a 14-year outdated, Zeng says that having spent a lot of his highschool profession within the U.S. will assist ease his transition to Ignite.
“That modified every thing for me — studying easy methods to play with and towards different athletic gamers,” he stated. “In highschool, I defended everybody: guards, forwards and even huge males. I can slot in any workforce as a result of I take open pictures, discover teammates and make good choices with the ball. Rising 2 inches has helped me bounce larger and enhance my protection and rebounding.”
NBA scouts will probably be allowed to judge practices for the G League Ignite beginning Thursday, a workforce official instructed ESPN. Ignite has 4 gamers at present ranked within the ESPN 100: Jaden Hardy (No. 3), Dyson Daniels (No. 15), Michael Foster (No. 31) and MarJon Beauchamp (No. 53). That does not embody Zeng, who wasn’t beforehand thought of a candidate to hitch this upcoming draft class.
Ignite additionally has 17-year outdated Scoot Henderson, arguably the highest American prospect within the 2023 NBA draft class, within the fold for the following two years. The workforce has introduced a 25-game schedule comprising exhibition video games towards G League groups and participation within the G League Showcase Cup.
Zeng says the G League Ignite was intently adopted in China final 12 months even with out the presence of an area participant, a characteristic that now will certainly amplify the quantity of consideration the NBA’s comparatively new program receives in one of many greatest media markets on the planet.
“Everybody in China paid consideration to Ignite final 12 months,” Zeng stated. “They like it. We had been in a position to watch all of the G League video games and replays. Ignite helped Jalen Inexperienced and Jonathan Kuminga turn out to be professionals.”
Solely two Chinese language gamers have been drafted prior to now 15 years, with Zhou Qi being the final participant to set foot on an NBA ground, in 2018. Growing the visibility of the NBA in China is a significant precedence shifting ahead, league officers have instructed ESPN.
Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft knowledgeable and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a non-public scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and Worldwide groups.