Shao on a mission in Minnesota
Shao Ting is vowing to make the most of her preseason tryout opportunity with the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA.
Shao, 27, starred in the collegiate ranks before joining China’s national squad. She was the team’s leading scorer in Olympic qualifying and averaged 9.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in five starts at last year’s Rio Games.
Shao and Lynx center Sylvia Fowles have led Beijing Great Wall to two consecutive Women’s Chinese Basketball Association titles.
“The Lynx signed me to take part in their training camp. For me, it’s mainly about learning as I am really looking forward to experiencing the intensity of the highest level of the game,” Shao said before departing for the US on Friday.
“It’s a challenge for me. The
only thing I can do is try to enjoy myself while doing my best in the camp. The rest of it will take care of itself if I can prove my competence.”
Three-time WNBA champion Minnesota announced on April 18 it had signed Shao, but didn’t reveal terms of the deal.
Beijing-based All Star International Sports, the agency representing Shao, later confirmed she was signed to a non-guaranteed deal to take part in the Lynx training camp, which opens on Sunday, and two preseason games next month.
If she secures a contract, Shao will be the fifth Chinese to suit up in the WNBA, after former national team star Zheng Haixia, Sui Feifei, Miao Lijie and Chen Nan.
A versatile playmaker and prolific scorer, Shao spent the past four seasons with Beijing in the WCBA after leading Bei- jing Normal University to five consecutive titles in the Chinese University Basketball Association from 2009-13.
Fowles and Lynx teammate Maya Moore are two of several WNBA players who compete in the Chinese league, which runs during the WNBA offseason.
During Beijing’s title run last season, Shao averaged 12.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 55.2 percent from the field in 41 games to finish second to Fowles in team scoring.
“My dreams of playing professional basketball and playing for the national team have been fulfilled,” Shao said.
“Now I have a chance to realize the ultimate goal. Maybe I am not the best physically over there, but my passion for the game and my resilience are as good as anyone’s. I will be more aggressive.”
Her WNBA trial has earned approval from national team head coach Xu Limin, who also helms Beijing Great Wall.
“China hasn’t seen a player in the WNBA for a long time so I feel really proud for Shao to have the chance to represent China in the US,” said Xu.
“It’s an opportunity to learn and improve, although her stay might conflict with our national team training arrangement. Still, I hope more Chinese players will follow her to higher-level competition.”
Chen, signed by the WNBA’s Chicago Sky in the spring of 2009 but waived after 26 games, offered a tip for a smooth transition for Shao.
“The intensity of the training and much fiercer physical contact present challenges on court while the ability to adapt to a totally different culture, language and environment is needed off the court,” Chen said.
Shao Ting, a key member of China’s national team, has been invited to training camp by the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx.