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Rockets news: Zhou Qi impresses Mike D’Antoni during early days of training camp

After selecting him 43rd overall in last year’s draft, the Houston Rockets decided to let Zhou Qi continue playing professional basketball in the Chinese Basketball Association to gain more experience and better prepare him for his leap to the NBA. Now, Zhou is taking part in the team’s training camp, and has turned a lot of heads so far, including Mike D’Antoni’s.

The veteran head coach spoke about the impressive skill set of the 21-year-old Chinese international, via Jonathan Feigen of Chron.com. D’Antoni also added that he is looking forward to working closely with Zhou throughout the season, and hopes that the latter can add more weight to his lanky frame.

“He has a chance. He has a real solid chance,” D’Antoni said. “He’s 7-2. He can shoot 3s, run the floor, knows how to play. There’s no reason other than strength and bulk and things that come naturally. I’m looking forward to having him up here all year and working with him. We’ll play him when we can. We’re not going to rush him. It probably won’t be this year when he makes a mark. But everybody keep going, ‘Wow, he can be pretty good.'”

Zhou Qi played for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the last three seasons, where he made a name for himself as an all-around player. He excels on both ends of the floor with his ability to score in different ways, and has good timing when blocking shots. He has also been representing China in different international tournaments, where he has competed against some of the best big men in the world today.

Heading into training camp, Zhou Qi was not expected to make a strong push for a roster spot, as he is seen as more of a long term project for the Rockets. However, his impressive skill set is proving to be enough for the coaching staff to consider him part of the team for next season. Should that happen, it will be a huge boost to his professional career, as he will have the chance to experience first hand how it is to play at the highest level, and also learn a lot from his veteran teammates.