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29 July 2019 | in Summer Universiade

Hoop dreams come true as Summer Universiade player top pick in CBA draft


Members of team China displaying their gold, sliver and bronze hardware earned at the 30th Summer Universiade in Napoli, Italy earlier this month

Earlier this month, Shaojie Wang donned the Chinese national colours on the court at the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade. This week in Shanghai, the basketball standout traded in his player jersey for a suit and tie to witness some of the sweetest words for an up-and-coming basketball star – hearing his name called as the top pick of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) Draft.

 

"It is a breakthrough, though there's still a huge gap between me and professional players,” Wang told news agency Xinhua.

 

The Peking University forward will play for the Beijing Begcl Basketball Club. The team, known affectionately as the Fly Dragons in CBA circles, will be led by first year head coach Stephon Marbury.

 
Wearing number 14, Shaojie Wang providing off-ball defense at the USA's Tevin Mack cuts towards the hoop during the group stage play at the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade

The NBA and CBA standout and Coney Island streetball legend had his eye squarely set on taking Wang before Monday's selection. "We're going to draft him," Marbury told Xinhua during the Universiade. "We think that he has very high potential.”

 

 

The 23-year-old showed his budding potential and winning acumne in leading his team to the Chinese University Basketball Association League title this year. He averaged 14.5 points, 7 rebounds, and 1.2 block shots during the season.

 

Wang’s dominant play led him claiming his third Grand Slam victory in June. He also took home this year's Most Valuable Player Award at the Chinese University Basketball Assocation’s All-Star Weekend.

 

Draft night was one to remember for emerging student-athletes as the top three picks all came from university students – a first in CBA history. Sun Siyao from California State University went second. Tangwen Yuan from Xiamen University, who joined Wang on the Chinese Summer Universiade team in Napoli, was the third selection.

 

This development reflects the association’s progress in building a campus-to-pros pipeline in China that mirrors how the NCAA prepares rising talent for the professional leagues in the United States. 23 university players participated in this year’s CBA Draft – an all-time high.

 

"The CBA Draft is on its way to opening the doors wider to all talented players, no matter where they come from," the CBA’s president of basketball operations, Zhang Xiong, said to China.org.

 

"Our league is committed to offering opportunities to every player who has a professional dream, and the draft helps facilitate that."

 

As a way to appeal to more university players, CBA rookie contracts have been extended from one to two years, with an increased annual salary of 500,000 yuan ($72,700 USD), according to the China News Service.

 


With basketball jersey wearing Pandas playing a part during the cultural performance handover from Napoli to Chengdu Summer Universiade hosts, expect basketball to be among the sold out events at the 31st Summer Universiade
 

The Chinese men's basketball team tournament run ended in the group phase of the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade with three consecutive losses to the United States, Ukraine and Finland.

 

However, both the Americans and Ukrainian teams would both play their way through the gold medal match. The USA team, consisting entirely of the Clemson University team playing in the NCAA collegiate circuit, completed their undefeated run to the Universiade world title with an 85-63 victory in the final.

 

As the newly-minted number one draft pick, Wang will be tasked with helping helping last year’s CBA bottom-dwelling Fly Dragons reach a higher level of performance.

 

"Everything is a challenge," Marbury said to Xinhua. "Everything is brand new. Last year they didn't do that well, they were at the bottom of the league.

  

"The CBA is not an easy league to win," Marbury added. "It's very, very difficult."

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