- LaMelo Ball is playing in Australia’s National Basketball League following stops in Lithuania and a prep academy in Ohio the last two years.
- According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, Ball wowed NBA scouts during a preseason tournament and is under consideration for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
- Ball has impressive handles, touch, and vision, with one scout comparing him to Luka Doncic, the 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year.
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LaMelo Ball’s path to the NBA draft has been far from typical, but it appears to be working for him. According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, Ball is drawing rave reviews from NBA scouts in the Australian National Basketball League (NBL) and is a contender for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
Ball, the younger brother of Lonzo Ball and son of LaVar Ball, was a high school basketball star at Chino Hills and committed to play at UCLA, following Lonzo and his other brother, LiAngelo. However, Ball was pulled out of Chino Hills and de-committed from UCLA while LaVar pulled LiAngelo out of UCLA following a suspension for shoplifting.
Ball followed LiAngelo overseas to play professionally in Lithuania. Neither Ball brother experienced much success with the club, and the Balls left after one season.
Ball then joined SPIRE Institute, an Ohio prep school that competed outside the jurisdiction of the Ohio High School Athletic Association. His new school didn’t offer concerns about his amateur eligibility.
Instead of going to college in the U.S. – there were concerns about his amateur status after playing professionally and having a signature shoe – LaMelo joined the Illawarra Hawks in the NBL. The move has become an emerging trend for NBA prospects who don’t attend college in the U.S.
According to Givony, the 18-year-old Ball may be the best player in the NBL and is already an MVP candidate. Givony reported that 27 NBA scouts attended a preseason NBL tournament to scout Ball and fellow top draft prospect R.J. Hampton. Ball lit it up in a game against the NBL defending champions Perth Wildcats, scoring 19 points with 13 rebounds and 7 assists.
“If he keeps this up, I don’t see any way he isn’t in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick,” an NBA executive told Givony.
Concerns about his fame and his father have followed Ball in recent years, but according to Givony, coaches and teammates have raved about Ball and haven’t experienced any trouble with his fame or family.
Scouts gave Ball high praise, with one comparing him to last year’s Rookie of the Year, Luka Doncic. The same scout told Givony that Ball is perfect for today’s NBA.
“He plays with incredible pace. He’s never sped up. He’s never rattled by anything that’s thrown at him. You’re expecting something magical to happen every time he has the ball. He sees everything. He can make every pass with either hand off a live dribble. His style of play is tailor-made for the NBA game, especially if you surround him with shooting and better finishers.”
Ball has shown off his impressive handle, finishing ability, and vision in the NBL.
There is still plenty of time until the draft, and Ball’s season is just getting underway. However, his stock appears to be rising. Givony reported that teams would begin to adjust their schedules and priorities for scouting the NBL following Ball’s impressive performance.
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