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Possible Chinese sensation reaches buyout, will generate major NBA interest

Zhou Qi is a prospective candidate for the 2016 NBA draft. He has attracted a great deal of interest having the longest wingspan in the draft at 7-7 ¾, polished skills, and a soft touch with three-point range. Qi also led the CBA in blocked shots per game in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, at 3.3 and 3.2, respectively, while also shooting 65 percent from two-point range in 73 total games.

Consequently, at only 218 pounds for his height and position, he will have to work on his narrow frame and put on some more muscle mass as well as improve his English to help ease his transition into the NBA.

Recently, his agent, Alex Saratsis, told The Vertical that the seven-footer has reached an agreement with his team, the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, that will allow him to buy out his contract and join the NBA in 2017.

Qi is considered one of the most important prospects China has produced and has already established himself as a key player in the country’s domestic league, the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), and on the Chinese national team that is competing in the Olympics this summer in Rio, Brazil.

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Initially, his team was reluctant to let him go to the United States to work out with NBA teams and join the 2016 NBA draft, as well as to agree to terminate his contract, which has another five years left on it. The deadline for early-entry candidates to withdraw from the draft is 5 P.M. ET on Monday, June 13th.

After much indecision, Qi’s representation in China and the United States secured a buyout that will allow him to get out of his contract at the conclusion of next season for $675,000, the maximum league mandated amount permitted. Now, Qi will have to find an NBA team that will guarantee him a favorable spot with the knowledge that he will join the franchise after an additional year in the CBA.

Before leaving the U.S. at the end of May to rejoin the Chinese national team in preparation for the Olympics, Qi had participated in private workouts with the Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Phoenix Suns. Also, the DraftExpress, which ranks him as No. 31 in the 2016 draft class, was present at two of the private workouts after the NBA combine.

However, Qi could also decide to withdraw from this year’s draft and try to improve his standing in 2017. We will see what he decides by 5 P.M. ET on Monday.

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