LaMelo Ball could end 10-year run by One-And-Dones college as No.1 pick in NBA Draft
LaMelo Ball took an unorthodox path to the NBA Draft, but he doesn’t feel like it was risky.
If selected No.1 overall by Minnesota on Wednesday, the 6-foot-7 ball would pass a 10-year pass by a college freshman selected with the first overall pick. The last non-rookie to be the No. 1 pick in the draft was Oklahoma sophomore Blake Griffin in 2009. The last No. 1 pick not to play college basketball was Italy’s Andrea Bargnani. in 2006.
Ball, 19, has played professionally in the Australian NBL and Lithuania and also spent time two seasons ago at the preparatory school of the Spire Institute (OH). After joining UCLA, he left Chino Hills (CA) high school during his freshman year in 2017 before landing in Lithuania with his middle brother, LiAngelo.
“Yeah, you could say it was a bet but for me I already understood what was going to happen when I got there [to Australia], which I was getting myself into, ”Ball said on a Zoom call Tuesday.
“So it wasn’t really a bet. Just watch [from the outside], you would probably think it’s a bet.
Ball confirmed ESPN reports that he worked for four teams: Minnesota, which picks at No.1, Golden State (2), Charlotte (3) and Detroit (7). He reiterated that he thinks he could be a “big” fit with Minnesota point guard D’Angelo Russell.
Ball has lived and trained in Detroit since March. When asked if anything stands out from the workouts, he replied, “You only go through this process once, so I really enjoy it all.”
He said he didn’t feel the pressure of potentially becoming No.1 on Georgia shooter Anthony Edwards.
“I feel like I’m the right person for this,” Ball said. “I feel like I was born for everything that is going on.”
Ball said he also had a Zoom call with the Knicks, who pick at No.8 and are expected to trade for him.
“Everywhere I play I feel good, so I’m going to give it my all,” he said.
Her father, LaVar, was not shy about expressing his preferences for LaMelo.
“I want either New York or Detroit,” he said recently.
“He probably just likes the big market, I know him,” LaMelo said of LaVar.
In the same interview, LaVar called former Lakers coach Luke Walton a “raggedy-ass” coach.
“It doesn’t matter where you go,” added LaVar, “the key is to have the right coach behind you.”
Whichever team writes, LaMelo risks being his father’s helicopter again.
“He’s my pop so he’s always going to be involved but it’s about me and [his trainer] not a word [Jermaine Jackson] make it happen, ”LaMelo said of his father.
Ball recently signed a deal with Puma was worth up to $ 100 million. Phoenix center Deandre Ayton, the top pick in 2018, is also a Puma customer.
In 12 games with Illarawa of the Australian NBL, Ball averaged 17.0 points on 37.5% shots, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 31.3 minutes per game. He became the first player to score triple doubles in back-to-back NBL games since 2005. But he only shot 25.0 percent from beyond the arc.
By the time he dresses for his new NBA team in late December, it will be over a year since he played an organized game.
“It’s pretty close to unprecedented considering it’s so far from the last time we saw these guys play,” ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz said on a Zoom call. “If you look at James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball, it’s going to be over a year since they played a competitive game when they played their first NBA game.”
Ball has worked for four NBA teams, but Schmitz called the pandemic-induced delay in the NBA Draft “a challenge.”
“Fortunately, the teams were finally able to make it to some practice sessions and see a limited number of prospects,” he said. “But during all those months, there were a lot of interviews with Zoom, it was a lot of film study, it was a lot of information gathering, so you would think that the teams, given all that time, would have a pretty good understanding of this. in class, but you can also talk to each other in and out of guys and talk to each other in circles too. “
Despite his unique background, Ball believes his overseas experience will pay off as he transitioned to the NBA.
“I feel like when you go overseas it’s a whole new different style of play,” he said. “Something you can just add to your arsenal, so I feel like it helped me in that aspect.”
As for what he will bring to his future team, he said.
“Pretty much,” he said, “whatever happens and the coach asks me to do, I’m going to do it.”