BYU hoops missed out this offseason on Russian forward Agasiy Tonoyan due to entrance exam issues, but the Cougars are on the trail for another recruit with international ties.
2019 6’11” big man Shengzhe Li from Santa Margarita High School (Orange County, CA) visited BYU’s campus this past weekend. Li grew up in China before going to SMHS as a foreign exchange student last school year. Li was offered a scholarship by BYU on his visit this weekend, according to one source close to the situation.
Li put up modest numbers as a junior last season in his first year in the states (6.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, 53.1 FG%, 66.7 FT%), but has caught the attention of scouts with his improvement in the AAU circuit this summer. He is now considered one of the best low-post players in Southern California.
2019 Santa Margarita C Shengzhe Li has come a long way since fouling out in five minutes against Mater Dei in January. Now one of the premier low block scorers in all of SoCal.— Devin Ugland (@Devin_Ugland) June 13, 2018
Li’s connection to BYU is through Santa Margarita Head Coach Jeff Reinert. Reinert was a college basketball coach for nearly 25 years, including a stop in Provo as a BYU assistant from 1991-1994. After his time at BYU, he was the head coach at UVU from 1994-2002.
With a year of American high school and AAU ball under his belt, Li is positioned to take another jump during his senior year. He has a few other schools already recruiting him — including Rutgers, Denver, and a handful of California schools — and he would land on the radar of more schools with a big senior year.
Li’s highlights from this summer’s AAU circuit can be viewed below. The video says he is the “closest person to the next Yao Ming”, which is a bit much, but Li shows a solid touch on his shot and some offensive polish. With his continuing improvement and his size, Li offers enough upside and talent for BYU to take in and develop in the program. BYU doesn’t have many big men recruits in the pipeline, so adding Li would be a nice addition for this team.
Here’s another play from this summer which shows Li’s awareness around the basket:
19' Shengzhe Li takes the nice delivery and protects nicely for the punch @SMCHSBasketball 11 Poly 10. 9+ pic.twitter.com/veqQJ3U8Mf— Matthew Kovach (@MattyK31) June 24, 2018
We’ll continue to give updates on Li’s recruitment here at Vanquish The Foe.