Check out these stats:
8.9 minutes, 0.2 rebounds and 2.5 points per game.
Not really the kind of stats you’d expect from an Olympian. You wouldn’t really expect those numbers to add up to long-standing popularity from a collegiate fan base, either. But we’re talking about college hoops, where well-meaning scrubs are lauded on a regular basis. We’re talking about Cal fans, and their enduring memories of 7’3″ Max “Maximum” Zhang. Zhang’s sojourn in Berkely was cut short amid rumors that he was ineligible to play for the Pac-12 school.
Bears fans got a little jolt of familiar joy this week, when it was announced that Max Zhang will take the court on the world’s biggest basketball stage this summer, joining the Chinese national team as it prepares to play in London. Jeff Faraudo of Bear Talk gave the big man’s story a little nuance in his latest blog post.
You’ll see him listed below under his formal name, Zhaoxu Zhang, but it’s Max, one of the more popular Cal players in recent years.
This is the happy ending for Zhang following his sudden departure from Berkeley on the eve of the 2010-11 season. The 7-foot-2 center was signed to a pro contract in China at the time after playing on a second-level national team in his homeland — and the undercurrent was the decision was not his alone.
The summer Olympics will be a college hoops fan’s version of Where’s Waldo, as former collegiate stars pop up on national rosters, striving for moments of national glory. Add Max Zhang to your spotter’s guide.