The Milwaukee Bucks met with draft pick Yi Jianlian for the first time at the NBA's Summer League in Las Vegas.
Yi, Bucks general manager Larry Harris and Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak met for about an hour at a hotel on Thursday to get to know the tall power forward and begin lobbying him to sign with the team.
Yi scored 23 points and grabbed four rebounds in 28 minutes of China's 86-77 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. He had a stretch in the second half where he hit seven straight field goals. Yi had a two-handed dunk over Rudy Gay early in the second quarter, a powerful move to the basket that brought several at the Cox Pavillion to their feet.
"I felt better about today's game," Yi said via an interpreter.
Yi finished with seven fouls -- summer league games allow 10 fouls before disqualification -- and seven turnovers. Still, it was an improvement from earlier in the week when he struggled against the Dallas Mavericks, only scoring 11 points in a loss on Tuesday.
"After a slow start [earlier this week], he is finally starting to show he is a player with great potential," China coach Jonas Kauslaukas said through an interpreter. "I don't want to say that this was his best game, but he played better and stronger."
Yi has not visited Milwaukee. In Dallas, where the Chinese National Team played a series of exhibitions earlier this week, he declined to talk about the draft or even the prospect of playing for the Bucks.
Agent Dan Fegan did not return messages left on Friday at his office or cell phone.
Fegan had pushed for the 19-year-old Yi to go to a city with a heavy Asian influence and Yi's handlers did not allow the Bucks to watch him participate in a predraft workout in Los Angeles.
But Harris said he planned to take the best player available and told Fegan he would not shy away from Yi, even though Milwaukee has only about 1,200 Chinese residents.
In the meantime, Bucks owner and Sen. Herb Kohl has written a letter to Yi, which was delivered by Harris on Thursday, to establish a dialogue with the star.
"We'll see what happens," Kohl said. "We're all in the process of reaching out to try and establish a constructive dialogue with him and his family and representatives."