Han Xu : Among basketball players, Han Xu stands out. The center of the Chinese national soccer squad is a towering 2.05M (6’9″).
Han has spent the last six years working hard to ensure that she is not stereotyped because of her height. From the U17 Women’s World Cup in 2016 to the most recent Women’s World Cup in Sydney last month, she has left her imprint on the court and progressed with each new China uniform.
Considered to be among the very best
After China’s historic run, which culminated in the country’s first podium place in 28 years, and Han’s own impressive performance, it’s clear that she’s evolved into more than just a tall basketball player.
I put forth my best effort. When China overcame France to reach to the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup, Han commented, “I do my best in every game.”
There was no doubt that she was doing her hardest. In the end, she averaged 12.4 points per game (twelfth most), 8.4 rebounds (fifth most), and 1.8 blocks (tied for most) in the league.
When China faced up against hosts Australia in the Semi-Final, she had a standout performance in front of one of the largest audiences of the whole tournament. With 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting, 11 boards, 2 steals, and 5 blocks, Han tied the Women’s World Cup record for a single-game performance.
Her shooting skill, in addition to her height and length, makes her a special and gifted player. She showed this off often in Sydney, and it’s helped her become one of the most effective attacking talents in the pros.
Even before the World Cup, Han told FiveThirtyEight, “Since I was little, shooting is always what I’m excellent at.”
Nobody can stop me from firing if I don’t overthink it.
As a result, she is one of the most talked-about players on this promising Chinese squad. It has been quite a journey for her to become such a vital part of the Women’s World Cup Finalist and the world’s number two rated national team.
She appeared meant for the basketball court. Han’s parents, both of whom were professional players in China, wasted little time in getting her acquainted with the game.
The women’s team’s practices were something I got to see because to the fact that my mum took me along. Han told SLAM in August, “We also watched a lot of basketball games at home.”
Once Han saw how far basketball might lead her, she had to choose between the two options available to prospective Chinese basketball players.
There are two main tracks one might take in China: the professional one or the academic one. According to SLAM, Han says, “there are pro youth teams for younger players who are maybe 15 or 16 years old who want to pursue a professional career.” To become a student-athlete and graduate from high school is an option if they decide to go to school. They’ll be ready for collegiate competition.
Han has made the decision to enter the professional arena.
At 18, I felt like I was ahead of the game and wanted to pursue a professional career. An invitation to the Chinese national team had already been extended to me. She said to SLAM, “Ever since I received that invite, I’ve wanted to compete at the highest level as a professional.
With that kind of head start, she was immediately noticed when she began to represent China internationally. Starting in 2016, there was the Women’s World Cup for Under-17s. After that, in the same year, came the FIBA U18 Women’s Asian Championship. The next year, in 2018, it happened during the Under-19 Women’s World Cup.
The next year, 2018, Han debuted with the senior national team in the Women’s World Cup, where she continued to make progress, including a 20-point performance against the United States.
Soon after, in 2019, at the age of only 16, she became the youngest player ever selected into the WNBA.
She was named a 2019 TISSOT All-Star for the Women’s Asia Cup. A member of the 2021 Olympic team. In addition to making it to the World Cup Final in Sydney, Han was also recognized as one of the world’s top players by being selected to the Google All-Star Five. This Halloween will be her 23rd year of life.
Some have dubbed her the “Yao Ming” of women’s basketball due to her early success on the national, regional, and international levels, not to mention her height and country.
Han added of her childhood idol, “He had a very great career in NBA and he also popularized the culture of the sport in China so that today, more Chinese people enjoy to watch basketball,” as reported by the AP. They’ve already met face to face, and Yao’s already given the kid some sound advise.
Here is where the two are analogous, in that they both contribute to increasing basketball’s profile in China.
All across the internet and in real life, Han and Li [Yueru] have been making waves. Numbers reveal that many young women have been encouraged to take up basketball because of Han and Li. As AP notes, “China’s social media platform is obviously seeing increased news coverage and various types of user-generated material,” said China basketball expert Michael Yuan.
Perhaps more than any assists or blocks she may have in her basketball career, Han Xu’s greatest effect will come from being an inspiration to her fellow players.
Following China’s 1-0 victory over Australia in the World Cup semi-final, Han was given the microphone to accept the TCL Player of the Game award and get the ovation it deserved.
It was her hope that more people would support women’s basketball.
It’s admirable that Han used her moment in the spotlight to continue advocating for women’s basketball rather than focus on the victory or her own performance, both of which were very noteworthy.
This has been quite the adventure. At such a young age, Han has already achieved so much more than many of her contemporaries ever dream of, from being a bright young talent to being a senior national team star to becoming an inspirational talent.
And from here on out, her story just becomes more interesting.
“I just hope my story can inspire the next generation to believe that as long as you work hard, you can achieve anything in life,” she said to SLAM.
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