China's 18-year-old center Yu Jiahao, who trained in the United States and played with Lebron James' son Bronny, has been widely considered a potential successor to Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming.
Yu pocketed 21 points plus 18 rebounds in the third-place game, helping Zhejiang smash Hubei for a bronze in the Under-22 men's basketball tournament at Sunday's 14th China's National Games.
Yu's outstanding performance in the event impressed many fans, some of them even regarding him as a potential successor to Yao. Yu stands 2.20-meter tall and has a lot in common with Yao besides the height and ability as both have parents who are former elite basketballers, and both start to play basketball at an early age.
Yu Leping, Yu Jiahao's father, was a local star in the 1990s Chinese Basketball Association league. The 54-year-old once brought tough battles to Yao when they were on the court as rivals.
Now, as head coach of the Zhejiang men's Under-19 basketball team, Yu Leping is offering his wisdom courtside in the Shaanxi tournament, pocketing the silver medal in the U-19 event at the National Games with his son, who averaged 24.4 points and 12.6 rebounds. Yu Jiahao took part in both the U19 and U22 competitions here.
Yao, president of the Chinese Basketball Association, appeared in the U19 tournament's victory ceremony.
"President Yao joked with me while giving the award. Although I didn't win this major event, I will try my best to contribute to Chinese basketball in the future," Yu told Xinhua.
Yu was praised as "the next Yao Ming" during his time training in the U.S., and many have expressed confidence in his future career in the NBA. However, his strict father and coach said there was still a long way to go for him.
"The process is more important than the result. If he could work step by step, I believe that he will have an outstanding career," Yu Leping said.
"We only had one Yao Ming. No one can be the next Yao Ming. Jiahao should be himself. If he could try his best during his career, it would be enough," he added.