BEIJING - Yao Ming's retirement this past summer has left a huge vacuum in Chinese basketball, so much so that already the search for his successor has already begun.
While the new face of China's Men's National Team is undoubtedly Yi Jianlian - who led them to gold at the FIBA Asia Championship to qualify them for next year's Olympic Games in London - some are already casting their eyes a few years into the future.
Enter Zhou Qi, a 15-year-old native of Henan who stands 2.15m tall.
After picking up a basketball for the first time at age five, he left his hometown four years later, travelling thousands of miles to Liaoning, where his on-court apprenticeship was stepped up a notch.
Over the years, Zhou has made a habit of delivering some impressive performances.
Last February, he scored at will in leading China to victory in the Turk Telecom U16 tournament held in Ankara, Turkey. That tournament included some quality opposition including the likes of France, Germany and hosts Turkey.
Zhou went for 41 points, 28 rebounds and an astonishing 15 blocks in a semi-final win over Germany.
He showed that was no fluke by following it up with a 30-point, 17 boards and eight swats display in a defeat of the home side in the final and finished the tournament with averages of 20.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and led all players with 5.4 blocks.
More recently, he put his imprint on the Final of the FIBA Asia U16 Championship in Vietnam.
With China doing battle against Korea in the title game, Zhou carried his team to a convincing win to the tune of 43 points, 19 rebounds and 12 blocks.
It's no surprise then that the comparisons with Yao have already begun and Zhou is being touted as the next big thing in Chinese basketball.
But the teenager is keen to not let that get to him and defers any praise that comes his way.
"I just played a couple of good games," Zhou said. "I just hope that one day I can be part of China's men's national team."
Before he gets to play for the senior men's team though, the rail-thin player will have to add some muscle in order to stand his ground in the key area.
Zhou only weighs in at 83 kilos right now and has a ways to go if he is to look anything like his favourite player - Dwight Howard.
"Look at him, look at how big his arms are," he said of his idol.
Zhou knows all too well that he has his work cut out for himself in coming years.
He will get as good a test as he can hope for at next year's FIBA U17 World Championship in Lithuania.
After helping China qualify for the tournament, he will be a pivotal player for them.
"I kind of take advantage of my height right now, but it's hard to say who will win after two years. European players might be more powerful," he admitted.
"I don't need a body at the moment. I need to learn more skills.
"I try to follow some big names and work as hard as I can to be prepared.
"I can't shoot three-pointers like Wang Zhizhi so I keep practising long shots every day."