Chinese top prospect Fanbo Zeng signs with G League Ignite, eyes 2022 NBA draft

Fanbo Zeng, previously the No.33 ESPN class of 2022 prospect, told ESPN on Wednesday he had signed with the NBA’s G League Ignite program and would declare himself for the 2022 NBA Draft.

“It’s the best, fastest way to become a pro, and get better every day,” Zeng told ESPN. “It was the best decision I could make while in China. I’m not saying the NCAA isn’t good, just that the G League is the best way for me.”

Zeng spent three years playing high school basketball in Oregon and Florida, but returned to China at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, originally committing to Gonzaga on scholarship offers from Florida State, Florida, Virginie Tech and others before choosing to pursue the professional path. He says he has grown 2 inches over the past 18 months and is now 6 feet 11 inches tall, while weighing 198 pounds.

Although he was previously classified as a high school student in the United States, Zeng has already completed his classes to graduate from high school, agent Jiacheng Roman Liu told ESPN, making him eligible to participate in the 2022 draft. what he plans to do.

Zeng arrived at the G League Ignite training center in Walnut Creek, Calif., Last week and will soon be allowed to play live.

Zeng has been one of the most promising contenders to come out of China for quite some time, gaining considerable attention for his high-flying finishing ability and 3-point shot. He averaged 15.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.1 assists per game at Windermere Prep High School outside of Orlando, Fla. In his sophomore in 2019-20, shooting at 47% over a 3 point range and establishing itself as a potential five star. recruit.

Arriving in Oregon at the age of 14, Zeng says spending much of his high school career in the United States will make his transition to Ignite easier.

“It changed everything for me – learning to play with and against other athletic players,” he said. “In high school I stood up for everyone: goalies, forwards and even big men. I can fit into any team because I take open shots, find teammates and make good decisions. with the ball. Growing up 2 inches has helped me jump higher and improve my defense and rebound. “

NBA scouts will be allowed to rate practices for the G League Ignite starting Thursday, a team official told ESPN. Ignite has four players currently ranked in the ESPN 100: Jaden hardy (No. 3), Dyson Daniels (No. 15), Michel foster (N ° 31) and MarJon Beauchamp (No. 53). This does not include Zeng, who was not previously considered a candidate to join this next draft class.

Ignite is also 17 years old Henderson Scoot, arguably the best American prospect of the 2023 NBA draft class, in the fold for the next two years. The team have announced a 25-game schedule that includes exhibition matches against G League teams and participation in the G League Showcase Cup.

Zeng says the G League Ignite was followed closely in China last year, even without the presence of a local player, a feature that will certainly amplify the attention the relatively new NBA program is receiving on the. one of the biggest media markets on the planet.

“Everyone in China paid attention to Ignite last year,” Zeng said. “They love it. We got to watch all the G League games and reruns. Ignite helped out. Jalen Green and Jonathan kuminga become pros. “

Only two Chinese players have been drafted in the past 15 years, Zhou Qi being the last player to set foot in the NBA, in 2018. Raising the visibility of the NBA in China is a major priority for the future, have league officials said. ESPN.

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