Sunday, May 16, 2021
The Unconventional Rise of LaMelo Ball
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Writer
Published November 19, 2020

LaMelo Ball arrives at the premiere of “Avengers: Endgame” at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Monday, April 22, 2019. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

LaMelo Ball has risen from being the youngest member of a high school phenom trio to a top prospect in the NBA Draft. On Wednesday, The Charlotte Hornets acquired LaMelo as the third overall pick.

Up to this point, his story and all of its’ plot twists have been heavily documented through the news, on social media, and through their family’s web series “Ball in the Family.” He recently signed a $100 million deal with PUMA.

LaMelo Ball competed in the Drew League in 2019 (Social Media photo)

LaMelo has countless highlight reels on the internet showing his performances in AAU games, tournaments, domestic and international Big Baller Brand events, and at the Drew League.

He is a 6’7” guard that has been lauded for his basketball IQ, his speed, and agility. His ability to make passes as well as his ball-handling and confidence are other attractive perks.


“I feel like I fit in at the top,” LaMelo said about his playmaking and passing skills in an interview with ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols. “I’m very confident in my game, anything I do, I feel good about it.”

LaMelo spent his senior year playing for the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, OH (Social Media photo)

LaMelo is not coming into the NBA to be a role player, but to be the best to play the game. To prepare for the Draft, he has been working out with his mentor and former NBA player, Jermaine Jackson in Detroit, MI.

The brilliant mix of suffocating fame and ardent competition has hovered over LaMelo throughout his life.

LaMelo has been playing basketball since he was four years old. His father, LaVar Ball, would match him up with opponents several years older than he is. This led to him becoming a varsity player in the ninth grade and having a basketball scholarship to UCLA before playing in his first high school game.

Throughout his youth, he played for the Big Baller Brand AAU team that was created by LaVar.

With his brothers Lonzo and LiAngelo, LaMelo helped the Chino Hills Huskies have an undefeated season, they won both the state and national championships. One of LaMelo’s teammates was Onyeka Okongwu, who went on to be a standout at USC and fellow 2020 Draft pick. After his sophomore year, LaVar pulled him out of school to compete with Prienai in Lithuania with LiAngelo.

LaMelo was named NBL Rookie of the Year (Wikimedia Commons)

Despite not getting a lot of playing time and teammates accusing him of being lazy and pompous, LaMelo scored season highs of 19 points, four rebounds and six assists. Before Prienai’s regular season was over, LaVar took his two younger sons back to the United States.

While in Lithuania, LaVar created the Junior Basketball Association (JBA). Briefly after his return to the United States, LaMelo signed a contract with the JBA. He played for the Los Angeles Ballers; he helped the team achieve a 6-2 overall record and a league championship. His 40 points per game put him second in the league in scoring (LiAngelo was first).


The JBA was canceled before its’ second season, LaMelo returned to high school for his senior year at the SPIRE Institute. Due to his stint in Prienai and the JBL, he was not considered an amateur player. This caused two basketball programs to cancel their games against SPIRE.

LaMelo has played for two professional basketball leagues prior to declaring for the NBA Draft (Wikimedia Commons)

His professional status also ruled him ineligible for various high school All-American events. LaMelo then signed with the NBL in Australia and he earned a roster spot on the Illawarra Hawks. There, he averaged 16.38 points, 7.5 rebounds and seven assists per game. He was named NBL Rookie of the Year.

“Playing over there is like a whole new style of play that you can add to your arsenal,” LaMelo said in an interview with ESPN analyst and former NBA player Jalen Rose. “I feel that I learned a lot and grew from there.”

During his penultimate in-season game, LeMelo notched a triple-double: 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists.

Being the top overall pick says little about a player’s potential in the NBA. Only two top Draft picks (Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis) in the last ten years have won NBA titles, both having the 2003 top Draft pick LeBron James on their side.

Categories: Basketball | Local | Sports
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