On Monday, we posted that China’s most promising young talent, 17 year-old point guard Guo Ailun, had been selected to play for the World Select Team at the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit this summer in Portland, Oregon. The annual competition, which will be held at the Rose Garden on April 9th (where the Portland Trail Blazers play their home games), is considered one of the premier showcases for U-19 talent, pitting the best young players from around the world against the U.S. Men’s Junior National Select Team.
Obviously, the opportunity for Guo is immense: Being able to play in front of international and NBA coaches, scouts and GMs would be great for expanding his own profile, not to mention China’s (Guo was the only Chinese player selected on the World roster). And going head-to-head against Austin Rivers and Marquis Teague, both of whom are projected lottery picks (Rivers is slated as the top overall pick by NBADraft.net), would be a great way to gauge himself in relation to the top players in his age group. As the old adage goes, to be the best, you have to play the best and the Hoop Summit definitely gives players that opportunity.
One small problem though: Guo is the best player of his generation in China, which means that the Youth National Team requires his services. Like, during the Summit. From Guo’s Sina Weibo (Chinese Twitter):
I want to respectfully congratulate everyone at the China Basketball News Awards Ceremony. I hope everyone pays more attention to Chinese basketball and Chinese basketball news. And about the Nike Hoop Summit, because I have to train with the Chinese National Youth team, I can’t participate. Kind of a bummer.
More like major bummer. Guo, who has been on the international radar ever since his surprisingly good performance at the LeBron Skills Academy and Nike Global Challenge in summer 2009, would have been the team’s only Chinese player on the roster, and only the seventh Chinese to ever play in the competition. Plus, after seeing two times in person as well several times on TV this season, we think he can actually ball, too. It would have been really interesting to see if he’s potentially the NBA prospect a lot of people think he is, as well as how much he’s improved since his last visit to the States.
But alas, thanks to the Chinese Basketball Association, we’ll never know. Key words “have to” and “kind of a bummer” indicate that this wasn’t his decision. The Asian Championships in Wuhan are coming up this summer, as well as the 2011 FIBA U-19 World Championships in Latvia, and you know how that goes. It”ll be gold medal or bust for the Chinese, who view gold medals as one of the best ways to display their country’s growing ability and ambitions to the rest of the world. Guo will definitely play for the U-19s and possibly for the Senior Team, and in the CBA’s eyes, needs as much practice time as he needs to give himself and his team the best chance to win glory for the nation.
Such is life for a Chinese basketball player. Loyalties are expected to go to country and club before yourself, and with a busy summer schedule for the National Teams, Guo has plenty of requirements to fulfill before he can participate in anything else. Kinda sucks, but as the popular Chinese saying goes, mei banfa. It’s not Guo’s choice and there’s nothing he can do about it.