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First Kazakh college player to enter CBA as 6th pick in draft

(Xinhua)    16:02, August 22, 2020

Jaoenger Hoyxan, a center forward from Xinjiang University, was selected on Friday by the Nanjing Monkey Kings as the 6th pick in the 2020 China Basketball Association Draft in Quanzhou, east China's Fujian province.

Since the CBA draft started in 2015, the 25-year-old is the first college player from the Kazakh ethnic group to embrace professional basketball.

Standing 2.10 meters tall, Jaoenger is one of the most outstanding post players in the Chinese University Basketball Association (CUBA), averaging 20.3 points and 12.8 rebounds per game.

However, in the draft ceremony, Jaoenger is not the best option for professional teams as almost no player is still a rookie at his age. But his story inspired the general manager of Nanjing to give him an opportunity.

Born in Toli County, a mountainous region in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Jaoenger and his two siblings were raised by their widowed father. Their mother died in their early childhood.

When he was 18 years old, he was occasionally spotted by a high school basketball coach, who provided him with free boarding which relieved his family from a heavy burden.

Then he moved off with the coach to Urumqi, a city about 600 kilometers away from his hometown, and began to receive basketball training. "I was 1.9 meters tall and could dunk easily at that time, but my layup was not stable enough," Jaoenger recalled.

As the tallest player in the team who was not qualified to play, he had to start with the most basic skills such as dribbling and passing, and it took him two years to become the core player of the team.

Pan Minghui, Jaoenger's high coach said that he was never late for training, even in the morning exercises which started at 5 am. During his college life, he had spent a lot of time in the gym to improve his physical fitness, trying to adapt to more intense competitions.

In his rookie year in the college, his father died of cancer and the family was heavily in debt. After selling all livestock to pay off the debts, he was more determined to become a professional player to improve his family's well-being.

With the development of professional basketball in China, a large amount of youth from ethnic minority groups have got job opportunities and better life through engaging in the sport.

In Xinjiang, one of the regions inhabiting the most ethnic minorities in China, more than 40 percent of players are ethnic minorities in the first team of local CBA club Xinjiang Flying Tigers, which won the league title in 2016-2017 season.

Last year, Jaoenger began to train at a second-tier professional team in Urumqi . His coach Mewlan Turson, who was used to be the center forward of Nanjing Monkey Kings, taught Jaoenger how to hook shots and play down in the post. The hard training made him more prominent in the CUBA and attracted more scouts' attention.

Now he has started preparing for his first professional season after the draft. "My name refers to warrior in Kazakh language, I will overcome all difficulties in the future just like what I did in the past," Jaoenger noted.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liu Ning, Bianji)

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