10 Wunderkinds to Watch in 2022
BEIRUT (Lebanon) – We haven’t officially reached the end of 2021 yet, but it’s never too early to set expectations for the upcoming year. There are many events up ahead and with those events come the potential of seeing some rising prospects that we’ve keep an eye on over the years.
Which of these young prospects will we get to see in 2022?
Fingers crossed, hoping to see all of them.
Francis Lopez (Philippines)
Lopez made his senior national team debut this past year at the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in the Clark bubble, becoming one of the youngest ever to suit up for Gilas at just over 18 years old. With these accomplishments and a more-than-recognizable nickname like “LeBron”, it’s easy to see why there would be much anticipation to see Lopez on the court for the Philippines again.
Since his debut, Lopez had signed to play in the Overtime Elite (OTE) league in the US. While he hasn’t been able to make his debut in the upstart league just yet, it will only be a matter of time before we get to see the high-flying youngster put his talents on display.
And if he is able to make a national team appearance in the meanwhile in the span of the upcoming year, he’ll make some Asia basketball fans (especially Philippines basketball fans) very happy.
Mohammad Al Bachir Gadiaga (Chinese Taipei)
Lin Ting-Chien seems like a popular pick as a player from the youthful Chinese Taipei squad that fans would love to see more in action in 2022 and rightfully so. Lin was spectacular in the Asia Cup Qualifying Tournament for Third-Ranked Teams and there’s certainly a lot more in store from the high-scoring guard.
However, another young player that fans should be excited to play for Chinese Taipei in 2022 is Gadiaga. The 23-year-old already played 3 games in the Clark bubble in 2021. The athletic forward flashed what he is able to provide for the team (ie. Annual Top 10 worthy putback dunks) which should be something that that the team welcomes back in the upcoming year.
Hashem Abbaas (Jordan)
22-year-old Abbaas saw the court for Jordan in 2021 at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers and he put up enough to have fans looking forward to see more in 2022.
After putting up a solid average stat line of 6.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game, Abbaas ended up as the most efficient player on the team.
Abbaas initially stands out for being the younger brother of Jordan legend, Zaid Abbas. However, in his first two games playing for the national team, he was able to shine brightly with his own light and left the fans wanting to see more in 2022.
Taran Armstrong (Australia)
Dyson Daniels commanded most of the spotlight for Australia in the Asia Cup Qualifiers and even afterwards when he signed with G League Ignite. This allowed Taran Armstrong to fly a bit under-the-radar while performing just as impressive as Daniels.
Armstrong recorded 6 points and 8 rebounds in his lone Asia Cup Qualifiers game, but his impressive stretch is what he’s been able to do in the NCAA with the Central Baptist University Lancers.
Through the early stages of his freshman year with the Lancers, Armstrong has been a force to be reckoned with. The 19-year-old is currently averaging 10.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game through 12 games played. He’s already logged a triple-double to go with many other double-doubles and there should be much more to come.
The Boomers have such a deep talent pool that it will take a lot for young prospects like Armstrong to be shortlisted on a roster, but Armstrong has shown enough to warrant that he should at least get a long hard look for a spot.
Lee Hyun-Jung (Korea)
Lee’s senior national team debut against the Philippines at the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers was spectacular, but unfortunately drowned out by miraculous buzzer-beating three-pointer from the opposing end. Nonetheless, Lee emerged as a star in the qualifiers with averages of 17.3 point, 7.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.8 blocks per contest across 4 games.
His performance shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has seen Lee play, whether it’s in FIBA youth competitions or even with Davidson College in the NCAA. They know Lee is a stud.
He’s even improved his level of production in the NCAA, currently averaging 17.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 51.4 percent from the field, 42.0 percent from the three-point line, and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line.
Lee is the face of the future for Korea and basketball and that’s why fans will be salivating to see more of him in action in 2022.
Norika Konno (Japan)
The success that the Japan women’s basketball national team has experienced over these past years has Asia Cup fans looking forward to see how they can keep the dynasty moving along forward. A key part of that future could be Norika Konno.
The shooting guard has been a featured player on the recent youth national team Japan whether it was at the U18 Women’s Asian Championship 2018 when she scored 13 points per game or at the U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup 2019.
She’s also currently a part of the women’s basketball team at the University of Louisville who are on a 10-game winning streak. Konno continues to be productive in her junior year with the Cardinals, averaging 3.8 points in 13.1 minutes per game over the past 3 seasons.
Japan have done well in reloading talent over the years and fans should be looking forward to see whether Konno can be the next proven case if she suits up for the senior national team in 2022.
Keisei Tominaga (Japan)
We’ve been spoiled with the youth talents of Japan basketball in the past few years whether it’s Rui Hachiura, Yuta Watanabe, or Yudai Baba. Add one more name to the list of players that Asia basketball fans are keeping an eye on: Keisei Tominaga.
Unlike the three aforementioned high-flying athletic forwards, however, Tominaga is more of a quick-trigger three-point marksman. That’s been his calling card ever since his days playing for the youth national teams even up until today where he is playing for the University of Nebraska. In his first year with the team, Keisei is already averaging 8.5 points per game.
Three-point shooting is a big part of Japan basketball and with Keisei’s ability to launch it from long range, it would be fun to see him make an appearance in this upcoming year.
Zeng Fanbo (China)
It’s an exciting time for China basketball fans as they transition from the Yi Jianlian-led era. There are plenty of talented candidates lined up to take up the torch from big brother Yi, but there might not be any other prospect with as much of a tantalizing combination of skill and size as that of Zeng Fanbo.
The 2.11 M (6’11”) forward will turn only 19 in this upcoming January, but has already been logging valuable playing time with the G League Ignite. Though he is recorded at nearly seven feet tall, Zeng has wowed spectators with his agility that resembles the movement of a forward while also being able to knock down the long range shot.
There will be a lot of competition for a roster spot in the China national team training camps in 2022, but fans should hope to see Zeng latch on to one of those spots to see what he can do at the next level.
Derrick Michael (Indonesia)
Michael oozes with potential with his combination of height at 2.03M (6’8”), length, and athleticism. While it’s still early in the stages of scratching the surface of his potential, there’s a lot to be hopeful about.
The last time Asia basketball fans saw Michael in action in a FIBA event was back in the first window of the Asia Cup Qualifiers and even then it was only a quick glimpse of the youngster. Since then, he’s been developing his game with the NBA Global Academy which has helped groom many Asia basketball stars.
Indonesia will need as much talent as they can get in 2022 with the opportunities to qualify for the World Cup in 2023 presented both at the World Cup Qualifiers and Asia Cup itself. It might be a good chance to showcase how much Michael has improved as well.
Muzamil Ameer Hamoda (Bahrain)
Asia basketball fans can probably still remember how exciting it was to see Muzamil play in his very first game for the senior national team way back in the first window of the Asia Cup Qualifiers in 2019. His outstanding play, even as a wide-eyed teenager left a lasting impression and raised high expectations.
That’s why his name will be looked for throughout the entire calendar year of 2022 in any Bahrain national team roster. The team is building a solid foundation heading into the future and the fans would certainly like to see their young star play as soon as possible.