NANNING, GUANGXI, CHINA – James Wang a three-time All-American for the Ephs and the fourth leading scorer in Eph history (1,576) has continued his professional career in the Far East, where he now plays in China's National Basketball League (NBL) with the Guangxi Weizhuang Rhinos.
Through eight games the Rhinos, who are defending NBL champions, are struggling with a record 3-5 and are in sixth place in the nine-team league. The regular season consists of 16 games played throughout China and then the playoffs commence.
Each team in the NBL is allowed one foreign player. The Rhinos' foreign player is Ryan Richards who was drafted 49th by the San Antonio Spurs in 2010. Wang's former Eph teammate Will Hardy '10 currently serves as the Spurs' video coordinator and an assistant coach. Hardy coached Ryan in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas the last couple of years.
Wang's Far East hoops career began in the Chinese Basketball Association, the highest level of Chinese basketball when he played for Dongguan New Century in 2012. However, the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association had not cleared Wang, who was born in Taiwan, to play in China so he had to go to Taiwan for a season to gain eligibility to play in China. In Taiwan Wang played for Pu Yuan Construction.
Guangxi picked up Wang's contract for two years after his season of playing for Pu Yuan Construction in Taiwan. Having been cleared by Taiwan Wang also earned the status of being considered a local player.
In the eight games to date Wang is averaging 30.9 minutes a game third most on the team. He starts most games and sees time at both point guard and shooting guard. Wang is hitting on 59.3% of his floor shots and has connected on 15 of 36 three-pointers for a team-leading 41.7%. In addition, he has made nine of 10 free throw attempts and is averaging 12.8 points a game.
In the Weizhuang Rhinos' sixth contest, a 109-108 loss to Heilongjiang, Wang played 39 minutes and was 3-3 on two-point shots and connected on 4 of 8 from beyond the arc, netting 18 points. He also snared eight rebounds, registered two assists, and recorded two steals.
In the seventh game of the season an 85-72 loss to Henan, Wang was limited to 16 minutes and tallied four points.
The Weizhuang Rhinos' eighth game of the season was played at home on August 9 when they hosted Beijing. In that contest Wang was the Rhinos' second leading scorer with 14 points in a 95-83 win. With the win the Rhinos improved to 3-5 to solidify their hold on sixth place. Ryan Richards posted a monster game versus Beijing with 45 points and 27 rebounds.
In 42 minutes Wang made his only two-point shot, hit three of nine from beyond the arc and was 3-3 from the charity stripe to account for his 14 points. Wang also added eight rebounds, a game-high seven assists, and two steals.
Wang has not crossed paths with any Ephs in China as Nanning, Guangxi is not a tourist destination, but he did see classmate Adam Century and teammate Ethan Timmins-Schiffman '10 while playing in Taiwan.
Wang's favorite part of playing in China right now is just being able to have his fiancée and former Eph women's basketball standout Danny Rainer '13 with him. Rainer helped lead the Eph women's team to a third place finish in the 2013 NCAA Tournament when she posted 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a 57-53 win over archrival Amherst, earning her All-Tournament honors. "With Danny here, it really allows me to be a lot more in the present and she makes daily life here so much better," stated Wang. "The club does a very good job in making sure that she's comfortable by giving us a free apartment to stay in."
Wang has also enjoyed getting to know the high-level import players that come to China. "Right now, China is offering very good money for their imports, so you get a lot of players who have played in the NBA, the NBDL, Major D1, all across Europe, and the Middle-East," Wang said. "Being able to learn about what these guys have gone through, how basketball in all of these different markets works has been an incredibly cool experience."