Chinese big man Zhou Qi has agreed to a deal with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers that will allow him to buy out his contract with his Chinese team and make the jump to the NBA in 2017, agent Alex Saratsis tells Jonathan Givony of The Vertical. Zhou’s buyout will be worth $650K, the maximum amount allowed by the Chinese Basketball Association.
Zhou is currently eligible to be drafted in 2016, but there has been some uncertainty surrounding his stock, since it wasn’t clear how much longer he would remain in China — his contract with the Flying Tigers was for another five years, per Givony. Zhou traveled to the U.S. to work out for NBA teams in recent weeks, including the Celtics, Suns, Grizzlies, and Clippers. Now, those teams and other NBA clubs have a better idea of when they’ll be able to bring the Chinese big man stateside should they draft him this year.
Zhou, who played alongside Andray Blatche, Andrew Goudelock and Bryce Cotton in Xinjiang, averaged 15.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and a CBA-leading 3.2 blocks in 34.2 minutes per game for the Flying Tigers this season. He had two points, three rebounds and two blocks in just over 12 minutes of play at last year’s Nike Hoop Summit, a premiere showcase that pits international talent against top U.S. high schoolers, and is expected to compete in this summer’s Olympics for the Chinese national team.
At DraftExpress.com, Givony ranks Zhou 28th in his list of top 100 prospects for 2016, which suggests that the seven-footer would make a good draft-and-stash candidate in the second round or late in the first round in this year’s draft. For the time being, he also has the option of withdrawing from the draft and aiming to improve his stock for 2017, when he’d be able to come to the NBA immediately. The deadline for international prospects to withdraw from this year’s draft is Monday, June 13th.