China’s young singer/point-guard, Guo Ailun, has had one hell of a three weeks.
In March, it was announced that Guo had been selected to participate in the prestigious 2011 Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Oregon as part of the World Select Team. Just a few days later, however, Guo wrote on his Weibo account that because of his commitments to the China Youth National Team, he would have to miss out on Portland in order to train with the U-19 team in Los Angeles. Yet on the World Select Team’s first day of practice on April 5th, Guo was in uniform and on the court, participating in drills and playing in scrimmages.
The last second change in plans can probably be attributed to a few different things. First, the CBA likely realized that letting Guo go to Portland was good exposure for both the player and Chinese basketball. Guo, who opened some eyes at the Lebron James Skills Academy and the Nike Global Challenge in the summer of 2009, is a player who has some international scouts and GMs amongst his fans.
Another thing to remember here is that the Hoop Summit is put on by Nike, the same company that sponsors Team China. Since Guo is one of a handful of domestic players who wears Nike on his feet during the CBA season, and since he played with the Senior National Team in Turkey for the FIBA World Championship last year, assuming that the swoosh made a call to the CBA after hearing about Guo’s commitments to the youth team would not be far fetched in the the least.
And lastly (we’ll have much more on this before the weekend) is this “blood letter” signed and marked with red fingerprints by the U-19s in order to have former Bayi guard and National Team member, Fan Bin, removed from his position as head coach. The letter, which was written and sent to administrators before the team left to train in Los Angeles, was reportedly lead by Guo. News of the U-19s “mutiny” against their coach did not get out to the public until well after the team arrived in the States, and it was later learned that Fan stayed back in Beijing to act as an assistant on Senior National Team head coach Bob Donewald’s staff, while previous U-19 assistant, Hu Weidong, had been promoted to lead the youngsters. To avoid Guo becoming even more entangled in this mess, the CBA may have sent him up to the Hoop Summit to get away from everything. He has since been placed on the Senior National Team roster, and is back in Beijing participating in training camp.
In spite of all that, however, Guo played pretty well in Portland over the week. Here’s what NBADraft.net had to say after watching several practices, who unlike Draft Express (who despite having corrected their error, still have yet to learn about Chinese family names), actually got his name right:
Guo Ailun – Guo might have been the highlight of the practice. During the drills he showed off his excellent ball-handling and shooting skills. Coming off screens, his midrange game was automatic. During the scrimmage, he would penetrate into the lane — bouncing around his defenders like a billiard ball with his 6’4″ frame — and set his teammates up for easy shots. Guo is also a scrappy defender. He competed hard the entire scrimmage and really showed that he belonged on the team.
As we at NiuBBall have watched Guo several times on television and a few of times in person, we’re not at all surprised about his competitiveness. Though it may not have shown because of the language barrier, Guo is the most vocal and enthusiastic point-guard we’ve ever seen in China. He plays with a level of confidence not usually seen in Chinese guards, and as he’s proven in multiple international camps, it shows in his overall performance. We are, however, a little surprised about his newly found shooting touch. Though a very good finisher in the lane, Guo has never been known as a knockdown shooter, making only 29% of his threes and 48% of his twos for Liaoning this season.
Not much of a scorer, Guo couldn’t match the actual game to his high performances in practice, but still came away with pretty good marks overall:
The quick, athletic Chinese kid didn’t have the game he wanted, finishing with only 4 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist. He did perform well at the practices and really made an impression on a lot of people. He’s a scrappy PG with a lot of confindence and an improving jumpshot. Though quiet on Saturday, you haven’t heard the last of Guo.
Though not a lock to make the final roster for the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship in September, we think Guo stands a pretty good shot. With Liu Wei getting up their in age, Guo’s development is one of the most important priorities for the National Team going forward. We’ll have plenty more on Guo and other young Chinese prospects as the Chinese youth/senior national team circuit gets rolling.