You might wonder how UC Berkeley 7-3 center Max Zhang could have room to grow, but he’s growing in many ways:
Growing in size. How could a 7-3 man grow in size? Not in terms of height, but in bulk. His coaches say that he needs to add bulk and strength, as he arrived from China weighing only 208 pounds. Cal coach Mike Montgomery arranged from a visa for Zhang’s mom to come to Berkeley to cook for him and basically fatten him up – an ideal job for an Asian mom! His mother was constantly shoving dumpings in his face, and now he’s up to 245. Amazing. I have to say that I didn’t any help to gain weight in college!
Growing in skill and comfort on and off of the court. Max has adjusted to life in Berkeley. It took at lot to get used to classes in English, but he worked hard at it. It helps that UC Berkeley is 40% Asian. “It’s not much different than walking on a college campus in China,” he says of the school. “I see the Asian faces. It makes me feel like it’s home.” His coach says that he is work in progress, but he clearly is improving as he scored 13 points in a win over rival Stanford. To help him get more aggressive (and less stereotypical!), his conditioning coach has him doing boxing drills.
Growing in popularity. Jeremy Lin has grown wildly in popularity, and I fear that he may sag under the weight of Asian-American expectations. Although Zhang is not the starting center, he seems to be a fan favorite. His coaches may be trying to make him tougher and meaner, but his niceness makes him wildly popular. How much do the fans love him? He missed 5 out of 6 free throws at a game with U.C. Santa Barbara, but nearly got a standing ovation on the make!