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Zhou Qi impresses in workout with Rockets' summer league team

For more than two months, Zhou Qi sweated in the Toyota Center weight rooms and ran through drills on the practice court. He trained with the staff of a Rockets team he would soon join, often with Yao Ming's retired number overhead as if watching his progress as he knew so many in China soon would be.

On Wednesday, he got to do something he had not in all that time. He played basketball. He competed with the other members of the Rockets' summer league team in preparation for the games in Las Vegas beginning on Friday. He dropped in jumpers and flipped in layups, finally with people trying to stop him.

Houston Rockets center Zhou Qi walks off the practice court following practice at the Rockets mini-camp in preparation for the NBA Summer League 2017 at Toyota Center on Wednesday, July 5, 2017, in Houston.
For all he has shown in workouts, he made an impression, exhibiting how far he has come and how far he remains to go.

"I see a very young guy who is raw right now, but his ceiling is so high because he is a guy who can run the floor, he can shoot the ball from deep, he can pass the ball," Rockets assistant coach Roy Rogers, one of the team's summer league coaches, said. "We're very excited about his future. He's gotten stronger. Obviously, we need him to get a little stronger so he doesn't get thrown around as much in the interior."

Zhou, 21, is expected to sign a four-year deal with the Rockets, as soon as Thursday. The team's second-round pick in 2016, he spent one last season with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, with the Rockets keeping a staff member in China to closely monitor his progress.

Soon after the CBA season ended, Zhou was in Houston, going through workouts even before he had been fully cleared while still recovering from the broken left thumb he had suffered in a collision with Carlos Boozer in the CBA Finals.

Fully healed, Zhou on Wednesday showed some of what he had learned.

"Comfort," Rogers said of the change in Zhou since his workouts in Houston began. "He's not making nervous movements any more. He's more comfortable being on the floor. He's more comfortable around his teammates. And he's more comfortable hearing the coaching from us because he's heard our voices and he's heard our terminology. Now we just have to get him acclimated to game situations."

Rogers said he had not determined his rotation after one practice, but he intended to play Zhou enough to determined how much his conditioning can handle.

For Zhou, it will be another adjustment in a life now filled with them.

"Summer league is a challenge, a brand new experience," Zhou said through a translator, Chandler Yu. "This is the first time involved in this kind of basketball environment. (I) want to show (my) level, what (I) achieved right now to everybody who is concerned and ... help the team have a good position in the summertime."

Source: http://www.chron.com/sports/rockets/article/Zhou-Qi-impresses-in-workout-Rockets-summer-league-11267818.php

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