Rockets select Chinanu Onuaku, Zhou Qi in 2nd round of NBA Draft

HOUSTON – After trading away their first round pick in a deal last offseason that landed them Ty Lawson, the Houston Rockets had to wait until the 37th pick in the draft to add a player.

With that pick, Houston selected Chinanu Onuaku, a center from Louisville. 

Onuaku, 19, averaged 9.9 points and 8.5 rebounds as a sophomore last season with the Cardinals.

Six selections late the Rockets added another center, Zhou Qi from China. 

Chinanu is a guy we've been watching closely," Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said. "(He's got) great potential, already strong on the defensive end. (Can) rebound, block shots, and move his feet the way the NBA is playing."

"He can get up and down the floor on offense, he's a guy who shoots a very high percentage," Morey said. "He's a guy that can really pass the ball which is a skill that I know (coach) D'Antoni thought was very interesting about him as well."

Qi, like Onuaku, was an early entry candidate for the 2016 NBA draft. 

In the Chinese basketball association, He averaged 15.8 points and 9.8 rebounds, while leading the league with 3.2 blocked shots per game. 

"(Qi) has as high an upside as anyone in the draft," Morey said. "He's a skilled, high basketball-IQ player that can shoot the ball, can rebound the ball, block shots.

"(He's) very mobile for his size," Morey added. "When he makes the NBA, he's going to have top two or three wingspan in the league. We're very excited that he was available with our second pick."

Qi, 20, is also a member of the Chinese National team and is expected to compete in the 2016 summer olympic games in Rio. China will face the United States on August 6 in Rio in the first competition for each team at the games.