Division II basketball. Never watched it, probably never will…but with Tsung-hsien “Jet” Chang coming onto the radar at BYU-Hawaii, I may just have to start.
Dubbed by some as the “Asian Jimmer Ferdette”, Jet rose to national prominence (at least in the Division II circles) last season when he dropped 43 points in a D-II national semifinal game and was subsequently named the Most Outstanding Player of the Elite Eight. True to his name, Jet is a high flyer-“he elevates on his slashing drives to the basket, and he has what other players like to idolize – hang time”, one writer explains. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Chang is described as one of the most athletically gifted ballers to come out of the small island of Taiwan.
Based on what I’ve seen (very little), Jet looks comfortable attacking the hoop and has ability to finish. He’s a solid shooter as well. But overall, Jet’s definitely a score-first, pass-second guard, finishing his junior season with some eye-opening stats, averaging 21.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and just under two assists on 46.1% shooting (37% from three).
For a player attempting to make the jump to the NBA or any professional league, though, D-II does not provide great preparation. However, “Jet” has been impressive in FIBA (the International Basketball Federation) events when representing his home country of Taiwan, which some give him more credibility. Highlights included a 35 point performance against Qatar and 25 versus Malaysia (not exactly two basketball powerhouses, I know, but still).
It’s not unheard of for a D-II player to make the NBA, but its a big disadvantage. Ultimately, I believe that it will be the summer workouts and invitational events that will determine Jet’s draft-ability. ESPN analyst Chad Ford is currently keeping tabs on Jet- and projects him as “Second Round/Undrafted”. Based in Hawaii, Ford is probably more informed about Chang’s game than other experts covering the draft.
But which position could Jet play in the NBA? Can he stack up against quicker guards? Does he have the athleticism to keep up on defense? Will his prolific scoring continue? Certainly, we have more questions than answers at this point. Nevertheless, Jet is an exciting prospect to watch. He’s definitely the best Asian draft-eligible player this year.
For more on Jet, head over to the Asia Basketball Update.