Max Zhang to sign with Shanghai, NCAA career is over

Zhang Zhaoxu, better known to American college basketball fans as Max Zhang, is something of a cult hero on the campus of Cal-Berkeley.  Standing at 7-3, Zhang is hard to miss both when he’s walking to and from class and when he’s suiting up for the Golden Bears.

Or rather, was hard to miss.

Sina is reporting that Zhang has decided to forgo his final two years at Cal to sign a contract with the CBA’s Shanghai Sharks this season.  Zhang, who had also been approached by Xinjiang, Shandong, Zhejiang in recent days, decided ultimately to sign with Shanghai because of the presence of owner Yao Ming and the team’s head coach, Bob Donewald Jr., who is also heads the Chinese national team.

Shanghai will a pay a fee to Zhang’s old club, Liaoning, in order to obtain his rights.

Zhang’s agent, Lu Hao, who also represents Yao Ming, has publicly confirmed the report: “This year he’s definitely staying in China, he won’t be going back to th NCAA because he’ll be playing in the CBA.”

Zhang had already decided to skip the fall semester in order to play for the senior national team in this November’s Asian Games in Guangzhou, but was expected to come back to the Bay Area for the spring semester.

But, in the last few months, Zhang has seen himself more involved with the senior national team and with the 2012 Olymic Games looming in the not so far distant future, he apparently has decided that the opportunity to play and develop under Donewald was too great to pass up.  The 7-3 center was on the roster this summer in Turkey for the World Championship, and with Yi Jianlian playing in the NBA, he is expected to get more minutes next month in Guangzhou.

As for his diploma, his agent stated that Zhang would consider going back at some point, either in the off-season or after his playing days were done, to finish up.

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