The next Yao Ming: 2.18m tall Yu wins plaudits at China Youth Games

2019-08-10 04:29:39 GMT2019-08-10 12:29:39(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

TAIYUAN, China, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- China's 15-year-old center Yu Jiahao, who trained in the United States, has been widely considered as a potential successor to former NBA Hall of Famer Yao Ming, although his team Zhejiang Chouzhou lost to Shenzhen Leopards 89-77 in the Under-16 men's basketball clubs tournament at the 2nd China Youth Games here on Friday.

Yu's excellent recent performance has impressed many fans, some of whom even consider him as a potential successor to Yao. Boasting a height of 218cm, Yu has a lot in common with Yao, not just the height and athleticism. Both have parents who are former professional basketball players, and both have started playing from an early age.

Yu Jiahao's father Yu Leping is a former star center in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league. During the turn of the millennium, the 49-year-old once forced Yao into some difficult situations when the pair met in the CBA.

Now, working as the head coach of CBA side Zhejiang Chouzhou, Yu Leping has offered his wisdom courtside in the Shanxi tournament.

And his son didn't fail him. Yu Jiahao averaged 22.3 points and 17.5 rebounds before the final. With CBA president Yao Ming watching from the stand in the final, Yu insisted playing despite picking up an ankle injury in the first quarter and went on to contribute 18 points and 19 rebounds. However, it was not enough to help his team to victory.

"With everyone's giving their utmost efforts, the team has achieved our goals in the tournament. We were good beyond the arc and played very good defensively as well. Compared with other teams, we have trained more, three times a day," Yu Leping told Xinhua.

Although Yu Jiahao was praised as "the next Yao Ming" during his time training in the U.S. and many have expressed confidence in his future career in the NCAA and even the NBA, his strict father and coach said there was still a long way to go for him.

"Yu Jiahao's shots are alright, but that's only relatively speaking to boys at his age. It's still too early to say," he said.

"Just being tall is not enough. There are many tall basketballers all over the world. The key to success is to have good skills with your hands and have good footwork. If you don't get good skills, the height may become your disadvantage," he continued.

Many young players such as Lu Yiwen and He Xi'ning that impressed in the first edition of China Youth Games in 2015 are now key players in the CBA league. Shen Zijie, with a height of 2.09m, has even got into the roster of the national team. Now fans of Yu Jiahao will be hoping to see him play in the CBA league as soon as possible.

"He might be a rising star. But I think the process is more important than the result. If he could work step by step, I believe that he will have a fantastic career," Yu Leping said.