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Look out for Yi

By admin Published: August 20, 2006

Sapporo, Japan -- It was a little bit of a ho hum night here, all expected the US to dominate China and they did, 121-90.  Also, LeBron's postgame interview audio is available here.

Even with Yao, who isn't in shape at all after being off since the spring after foot surgery, there was no way the Chinese were going to be able to handle the American pressure defense.  It wasn't much of a game.

However, there is always something to see and in the modern world of basketball it is always prudent to keep an eye out for international talent.  Not that I've ever pretended to be a scout, but if you are a serious fan do yourself a favor and remember the name Yi Jianlian.  Or, to make it easier, just Yi.

He certainly appears to be the next major Chinese export to the NBA, though it is hard to tell exactly when he'll make it.  He's 6-foot-11 and athletic and already has some good muscle though it needs development.  He scored 13 points againt the US and had seven rebounds.  And, most importantly, he's just 17.  Or so I think or at least am told.

His age has been a mystery for some time, the Chinese used to list him as being in his twenties and now they say he's 18.  Some US players asked to get the straight answer and he told everyone he's still 17.  The belief is the Chinese are trying to protect him from leaving for anywhere before the Beijing Olympics.  The running joke is that by 2008, he'll be listed as being 15.

While he was on the foul line in the first half, one educated American fan yelled "Yi, how old are you?" from the stands.

But know this, he can play.  Team USA folks were talking about him after the game and there's no doubt the NBA folks already know about him.  So far he's been the best little find I've personally made since being over here.  I'm sure there will be more.

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