Yi surprised to be picked by Milwaukee in NBA Draft
Updated: 2007-06-29 10:23 NEW YORK - China's Yi Jianlian, the first
international player taken in the 2007 NBA Draft, said he was surprised by being
selected with the sixth pick of the first round by the Milwaukee Bucks on
An athletic power forward who averaged 24.9 points a game for Guandong
in the China Basketball Association, Yi had not worked out for the Bucks.
"It is a surprise to me as well because when I was in China Milwaukee
didn't come to watch me play or to work out," Yi told reporters through an
"The draft is just like a lottery to me."
trained in Los Angeles for two months to showcase his talents ahead of the
draft, had declined to work out for the Bucks in what some observers interpreted
as a move to discourage them from selecting him.
"Myself, I'm not really
familiar with the city but I'm happy to play with the team and I'm happy to play
in the NBA," he said.
"I didn't see a lot of Milwaukee's games in China
and I've never been there, so it's kind of a new city to me."
Sun Qun, the editor of China's top basketball newspaper
Pioneers, was quoted on the Web site sina.com as saying that the surprise
selection might work out for Yi.
"He probably will not say 'No' to the
Bucks. He is not American. He respects the NBA very much," said Sun.
"And the other aspect is that the Bucks are not a bad option. Since
there are fewer good frontline players in the Eastern Conference, he would have
Yi will become the fourth Chinese player in NBA
after Houston Rockets' All-Star center Yao Ming, Wang Zhizhi and Menk Bateer.
"It's a beautiful thing for Chinese players," Yi said about joining the
league and following Yao, who was the number one overall pick in 2002.
"There are not that many Chinese players in the NBA at this moment. I'm
looking forward to playing with Yao on the court and it will be fun to play with
him in the NBA."
Yi added: "I didn't play with Yao Ming...in China. But
we played together for the national team so we are team mates."
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