Thursday, April 21, 2005

You can't coach height

Click here for AmazonHow about a 7 feet, 9 inch center? Despite his immense physical size, Sun is definitely no lock for an NBA roster slot. Just being able to look down on Shaquille O'Neal... or even Manute Bol... isn't enough in the premier league of hyper-athletes.

Sun Ming Ming, whose head measures above most door frames, follows Keith Gatlin into Fitness by Design for a late morning workout.

Ball in hand, Sun, 21, muscles his 350-pound frame into training partner Dshamal Schoetz, a 7-footer who played at Greensboro College who is nearly nine inches shorter. Sun pivots and places the ball firmly into the hoop. Swish.

Sun's grasp on a basketball resembles most people holding a softball. (Joseph Rodriguez)

Sun, who is from Harbin, China, is training in Greensboro for a shot at the NBA. His agent, Charles Bonsignore, paired the prospect up with former client and former professional basketball player Keith Gatlin. Gatlin, a managing partner with 334 Sports, a local firm that trains athletes, has worked with Sun for about five weeks.

"With his size, that intrigues everybody," Gatlin said. "He can really shoot the ball to be that size. The challenge for him now is to get mobile, to get up and down the court."

Sun also can handle the ball and has a sweet outside shot that swishes with the quick flick of his wrist. When it comes to dunking, he doesn't need to leave the ground.

Basketball, Gatlin will tell you, is not Sun's problem.

Sun's weakness is his flexibility and his lack of weight training. While playing for the Junior Olympic team and then Da Qing, his province's club squad, Sun never lifted weights and is just now building upper-body strength...

News & Record: Nearly 7-foot-9 player from China training for NBA in Greensboro

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