|No. 9 – Houston Rockets|
January 16, 1996 |
Xinxiang, Henan, China
|Listed height||7 ft 1 in (2.16 m)|
|Listed weight||210 lb (95 kg)|
|NBA draft||2016 / Round: 2 / Pick: 43rd overall|
|Selected by the Houston Rockets|
|2014–2017||Xinjiang Flying Tigers|
|Career highlights and awards|
Zhou Qi (Chinese: 周琦; pinyin: Zhōu Qí, pronounced [ʈʂóu tɕʰǐ], JOE chee; born January 16, 1996) is a Chinese professional basketball player for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He previously spent his professional career with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Zhou first began appearing on scouting reports when he came out of nowhere to guide his country to an unlikely youth team title in Turkey at the TBF International Under-16 Tournament in 2011. Then aged fifteen, Zhou put up 41 points, 28 rebounds and 15 blocks in China's semifinal win over Germany, and then went for 30-17-8 in the final against the host nation. A year later at the 2012 Albert Schweitzer Tournament, a traditional testing ground for the best teenage players in international basketball, Zhou reinforced his reputation as one to watch by averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.2 blocks in 28.2 minutes per game.
Xinjiang Flying Tigers (2014–2017)
Although there were rumors that a couple of U.S. college teams were courting him, the teenager decided to stay in China, and his move to the cash-flush Xinjiang team caused a firestorm of speculation within the local media. Initially, it was claimed Zhou had accepted a three-year, $744,000 deal that would have made him better paid than most of the Tigers' roster at the time, and the club was forced to publicly deny those stories.
In 2015–16, Xinjiang lost in the semifinals of the CBA playoffs. Zhou led the CBA in blocked shots in each of his first two seasons at 3.3 and 3.2 per game, respectively, while shooting 65 percent from two-point range in 73 total games.
In June 2016, Zhou reached an agreement with Xinjiang that would allow him to buy out his contract and join the NBA in 2017. After much back and forth, Zhou's representation in China and the U.S. secured a buyout that would allow him out of his contract at the conclusion of the 2016–17 season for the maximum league mandated amount permitted, which is $675,000.
In 2016–17, Zhou averaged 16.0 points and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 58.6% from the floor. He also ranked second in the CBA in blocks (2.3 bpg) and was named Defensive Player of the Year. Zhou hit 20 3-pointers in 2016–17 after having 10 his first two seasons combined. He also helped Xinjiang win its first championship in 2016–17.
Houston Rockets (2017–present)
After his second season with Xinjiang, Zhou declared for the 2016 NBA draft. He had the longest wingspan during the 2016 NBA Draft Combine at 7'7¾" (2.33 m). On June 23, 2016, he was selected with the 43rd pick overall by the Houston Rockets.
On July 6, 2017, Zhou signed with the Houston Rockets.
National team career
Zhou made his debut with the senior Chinese national team during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. He returned for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, China, where he helped China win the championship with a win over the Philippines in the final. Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds in the championship game. He was subsequently named to the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship All-Star Five. Zhou later competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics with the Chinese national team.
- Crawford, Andrew (January 7, 2014). "Zhou Qi forgoes U.S. to join Xinjiang Tigers". oneworldsports.com. Archived from the original on 18 July 2014.
- Givony, Jonathan (June 10, 2016). "Potential Chinese sensation reaches buyout agreement". Yahoo.com. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- "Rockets Sign Zhou Qi". NBA.com. July 6, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- "Zhou Qi's insane wingspan steals spotlight at draft combine". theScore.com.
- "Rockets Select Chinanu Onuaku and Zhou Qi in 2016 NBA Draft". NBA.com. June 24, 2016. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
- "China vs Philippines". FIBA.com. October 3, 2015. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
- "Yi Jianlian named 2015 FIBA Asia Championship MVP, headlines All-Star Five". FIBA.com. October 3, 2015. Retrieved July 6, 2017.