the big zhang on campus

At UC Berkeley, Max Zhang is literally the big man on campus. The 7-foot-3 sophomore, who plays center for Cal's basketball team, has been putting up solid numbers for the Bears this season. Here's a recent San Francisco Chronicle profile on the tallest Chinese dude at Cal: Cal's Zhang is one big man on campus.

Zhang, who hails from China, came to Berkeley as "a tall Chinese kid that had a chance," according to coaches:
Dick Marquis, a coach in China, came with Zhang and arranged a campus visit with his old friend, then-San Diego coach Brad Holland.

"When Dick first called me, he said he had a tall Chinese kid that had a chance," Holland said. "Max really liked his campus visit, we thought he was a great kid and had potential, and we were all set."

Until Holland abruptly was fired in March 2007. Ben Braun, then coaching at Cal, learned there was a 7-3 kid without a school playing in AAU games in Los Angeles, and the rest is history.

Holland, now an assistant coach at UCSB, had the opportunity to coach against Zhang when the Gauchos visited Haas Pavilion last month.

"He's much improved in a variety of ways," Holland said. "He's got more strength and moved very well. It was neat to see his growth and how the Cal fans responded to him. It made me feel great."
Since starting with Cal, he's definitely gained a fan following. However, being instantly recognizable has its drawbacks. Apparently, everywhere the guy goes, some fool has to yell, "Hey, Yao Ming!" What, every tall-ass Asian guy is Yao Ming now? That's stupid.

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