Class of 2015 from FIBA U16 Asian Championship was loaded with future stars
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Class of 2015 from FIBA U16 Asian Championship was loaded with future stars

JAKARTA (Indonesia) - The FIBA U16 Asian Championships have proven to be quite a launchpad for some of the best talents in Asia over the years like Rui Hachimura and Zhou Qi. It's the first major competition in Asia & Oceania where fans get to see glimpses of potential from the stars of tomorrow.

The class of the FIBA U16 Asian Championship 2015 looks like another strong batch of players that continue to prove why they were such highly sought after prospects back then. Who is your favorite up-and-coming star?

The Champions

Jae Min-Yang starred for Korea in their first U16 Asian Championship title run, which should come to no surprise considering it was his second time playing in the competition. After back-to-back games scoring over 30 points in the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals, Jae put in an all-around line of 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists to win in the title game.

Throughout the competition, he ranked top 3 on the team in points, rebounds, and assists with 16.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game.

Jae continued to be featured on the youth national team squads over the years for Korea before heading over to play collegiately in the US. Recently, he has returned to play in Asia once again after signing on to play as an Asian Import in the Japanese B.League for the Shinshu Brave Warriors.

Another terrorizing up-and-coming talent on the wing for the championship squad was Lee Hyunjung. Lee had only just turned 15 at the time of the tournament, making him the youngest player on the roster. That didn't seem to bother him as he posted three games with more than 20 points on the way to average 14.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest.

From there, Lee went on to play at the U17 World Cup in 2016 but it was only until the U18 Asian Championship 2018 when he completely took over. The 2.00M (6'7") forward led the entire tournament in points, assists, and steals while also ranking 5th in rebounds for Korea with a video-like statistics of 26.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 3.3 steals per game.

He's recently wrapped up his first year playing in the NCAA Division 1 at Davidson University with averages of 8.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

The Finalists

Korea might have won the title in 2015, but what a run it was by Chinese-Taipei to challenge them to the end. Leading the way was Lin Ting-Chien, who was on a tear from start to finish for his team. Lin scored in double-digits in every game, ending up with an average of 21.9 points per game as only one of four players to average over 20 points.

He went on to star for Chinese-Taipei once again as they qualified for the U17 World Cup in 2016, averaging 21.3 points per game in Zaragoza.

Lin is now firmly considered as a key part of the national team's future, having been featured on several "B teams" in exhibition tournaments. He also recently finished a stellar freshman season at Bryant University where he averaged 8.6 points per game and was named to the Conference All-Rookie team.

It wasn't a one-man show for Chinese-Taipei in 2015 either. Lin paired up with Tang Wei-Chieh to be a dangerous one-two punch for any team that faced them in Jakarta. Tang also scored in double-digits in every game while also posting up three double-doubles as well. He finished with eyebrow-raising averages of 19.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest.

Like Lin, Tang also went overseas to play collegiately in the US. In his first season at Virginia Military Institution (VMI), he averaged 4.4 points and 2.6 points per game.

China's Tradition

The past editions of the U16 Asian Championship had seen China feature stars like Zhou Qi and Guo Ailun. In 2015, it seems like Xu Jie could be the one that rises out ahead of the rest despite being the youngest and shortest player on the squad at the time.

The quick guard heated up late in the competition, highlighted with a 20-point outing against Japan, to average 8.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per contest. Again, not bad for the smallest kid on the court for his team.

Xu has since stepped up as the lead floor general for the youth national teams at the U18 Asian Championship 2018 and U19 World Cup 2019. He's also already solidified a key spot in the rotation for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) who are attempting to win back-to-back titles this year.

You the man, Yudai

Yudai Baba had already starred for Japan in the U16 Asian Championship in 2011 before achieving recent success this past year. That could be a good sign for Yudai Nishida who was spectacular for Japan throughout the tournament in 2015.

Nishida was Japan's main scoring option from start to finish with six games scoring more than 20 points. He finished the competition with solid averages of 18.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

The 1.88M (6'2") forward continued to be a featured scorer in future youth national team squads. It seems like it won't be long before he finally makes his way to play on the senior squad, already having been called up to the training camp for a World Cup Qualifying window in 2018. Yudai has also already played in his first season professionally in the B.League. With the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins, he averaged 4.3 points per game in the 2019-2020 season.

Young Batang Gilas Gunners

Sean Dave Ildefonso and Juan Gomez De Liaño were among two of the youngest players for the Philippines in Jakarta. However, both have since developed to become two of the most promising prospects for the future out of that batch.

Ildefonso had his flashes of brilliance, including a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double against Lebanon and finished with 7.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He’s drastically improved to become one of the Philippines' best wing prospects since, as evident by the recent U19 World Cup where he put up 16.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game.

After scoring only 2 points against China at the U16 Asian Championship in 2015, Ildefonso racked up 21 against them at the U19 World Cup last year.

De Liaño has taken a slightly different path than Ildefonso. After averaging 8.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in 2015, the shifty guard hasn't seen any action in the youth national teams since.

Instead, he's been called up to the senior national team roster and saw action at the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers in the first window. In the Philippines' first game of the window, De Liaño scored 10 points to go with 2 assists in a win.

King Karim

As we watched Karim Zeinoun star for Lebanon in the first window of the Asia Cup Qualifiers with 15.5 points on 78.6 percent shooting from the field, it was easy to forget that he was already wrecking up the competition at the U16 tournament five years earlier.

Zeinoun recorded a mind-blowing six double-doubles as a 1.88M (6'2") forward as he tried to carry Lebanon as far as he could. He ended up averaging 22.2 points, 11.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 4.6 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game.

There's still plenty of room for the talented forward to improve after already playing professionally in Lebanon for the past four seasons, which could be a scary thought for the rest of Asia.

Which FIBA U16 Asian Championship standout do you think will end up being the best of the bunch?