SEVIERVILLE – After making a commitment over Christmas, Sevier County’s Jonathan Zhao officially announced that he will be attending Carson-Newman University to play basketball with a signing ceremony on Friday afternoon.
Zhao, who is from California, didn’t watch any schools in the West, but instead wanted to stay close to what he now considers home.
“There were a few schools out of state recruiting me, but I really wanted to stay home and I feel like this is where I need to be,” he said. declared.
Zhao averaged over 22 points per game as a senior for the Smoky Bears, and he’s led them to 23 wins and the region tournament, but he knows college play is a whole different level.
The Eagles won the South Atlantic Conference Championship this winter going 16-6 overall and 11-5 in conference play before Tusculum defeated them in the Southeast Region quarterfinal. .
Zhao said the Eagles are working extremely hard, and for him, working on improving his athleticism to handle physicality in college is the number one priority this summer.
âI have never experienced this athleticism in high school,â he said. âYou don’t see guys that athletic, but at the college level every team has guys who are crazy about athletics and doing things that I’ve never seen before.
Zhao has scored over 1,200 points and racked up over 250 rebounds in his Sevier County prep career, and the hope is that the district’s 2-AAA Player of the Year can make an impact for the Eagles in the winter. next.
âI feel like I’m going to have to step up my game, but I think I’ll fit in right away,â Zhao said. “I hope to have an impact and I am delighted with it.”