Former BYU guard Jimmer Fredette took the Chinese Basketball Association by storm a season ago. He averaged more than 37 points a game to finish as one of the league's top scorers while taking home the International MVP award.
He also added many other honors to his trophy case while leading the turnaround of the Shanghai Sharks from a team that missed the playoffs into one that contended for the top regular-season record.
Along the way, he also rekindled Jimmer Mania thanks to his impressive scoring performances. He led the All-Star game in scoring, won the 3-point contest and hit the 50-point mark on four occasions. One of those 50-point nights was a 73-point explosion in a 135-132 double-overtime loss where he scored the Sharks' final 22 points.
The second coming of Jimmer Mania extended well beyond the borders of China as well. ESPN did a feature on Fredette for "Outside The Lines" while others such as Yahoo Sports, the New York Post and Sports Illustrated tracked his progress.
Fredette is headed back to China with a hefty two-year contract in hand to try to accomplish one of the things he wasn't able to do in his first season in Shanghai — bring the Sharks home a championship.
But those championship dreams won't be easy to come by.
Not only did Fredette lose his right-rand man when Guerschon Yabusele headed to the Boston Celtics, but the CBA schedule will also be much more difficult to navigate this time around thanks to a huge influx of NBA talent.
Names like Ty Lawson, Brandon Jennings, Donatas Motiejunas, Terrence Jones and Luis Scola have taken their talents to China. And they aren't the only players with NBA experience joining the up-and-coming league.
In fact, 16 players with NBA pedigrees are new to Chinese rosters this season, leaving just one CBA team without a former NBA player.
While the influx of players with NBA experience isn't unusual, the nature of the players who have decided to head east is.
Very rarely do you see players like Lawson, Jennings, Motiejunas and Jones go to China at this point in their careers. All four are still in their 20s and have been major contributors just about wherever they have played.
Lawson averaged 15.2 points and 9.6 rebounds in 75 starts for the Denver Nuggets just two years ago while Jennings, just 27, averaged better than 15 points and five assists a night for six straight seasons before injuries derailed his production.
Like Jennings, Motiejunas has seen his production drop drastically because of injuries, but is a very talented player when he is right physically. The 26-year-old stretch four is just two years removed from averaging 12 points and nearly six rebounds a night while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor.3 comments on this story
Jones, only 25, also has had plenty of success during his time on the floor since he entered the league as the No. 18 overall pick in the 2012 draft. He has averaged 10.5 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 50.1 percent from the field in 24 minutes a night over his five NBA seasons.
Other recognizable names heading to the CBA include former first-round picks Jared Sullinger, Andrew Nicholson and Tyler Hansbrough as well as Russ Smith, Carl Landry, Von Wafer, Brandon Bass, Sonny Weems, Jarnell Stokes and former Lone Peak High School big man Justin Hamilton.
While the greater pool of talent won't make the road to a title for Fredette and the Sharks impossible, it will definitely make it much more challenging to navigate and even more entertaining to watch.