"Whenever we go somewhere, everyone is always yelling at him," Boykin said. " 'Hey, Yao Ming! Yao Ming! Yao Ming!' And he's cool with it. I know, if I was in a foreign country and everywhere I went it was, 'Hey, Will Smith! Will Smith!' I would probably get a little upset at some point."
Actually, Zhang does get bothered when he hears the name-calling - but not for any racial insensitivity or a desire to be his own person.
"I know Yao Ming personally," Zhang, 22, said of the Houston Rockets' center and Chinese icon. "And I think he is a really great player and a great person. So when someone calls me Yao Ming, I think it is not right because he deserves a lot of respect. He shouldn't be compared to every tall Asian person.
"I have a long way to go and even if I reach my goals, I don't think I can be compared to Yao Ming. ... But I will do my best."
The fans do love Zhang, but occasionally their support and the constant motivation of his teammates backfires.
"Sometimes I do feel bad that I don't get better quickly," Zhang said.
Randle rolls his eyes when he hears that.
"He's improved a great deal," Randle said. "He listens in practice, works hard and always tries to get better. He just needs to keep his head up. And his hands up."
If he keeps improving, Zhang will have a good shot at fulfilling a recent dream: to play for the Chinese Olympic basketball team. Yup, just like Yao Ming did.
For now, he will continue to be the big man on campus. Students constantly point to Zhang when he strides through Sproul Plaza.
"Cal is the perfect place for me," Zhang said. "I am getting a great education and our team is like a family. We enjoy success with each other. I am playing with great players, and learning a lot from them.
"I hear their encouragement and the fans' cheers all the time. When I do good, it's for them. And me."
After the jump Cal stops recruiting a safety, Wilner picks Oregon to cover the 14-point spread, Faraudo posts his Oregon scouting report, Randle apologizes for Saturday, and more.
- Cal is no longer recruiting four star safety Sean Parker, despite the fact that Cal is a finalist among his decisions. Parker is widely considered to be one of the top-ten safety recruits in America.
- Cal comes in fourth in Ted Miller's top-ten programs of the decade and coaches of the decade.
- Wilner picks Cal to win, but thinks Oregon will cover the 14-point spread.
- Faraudo posts his scouting report for Oregon.
- Randle apologizes for his poor play on Saturday. He admits his knee was bothering him and that he shouldn't have played. He and Oregon's Tajuan Porter should have a good battle tonight.