ESPN names LaMelo Ball top prospect for 2020 NBA Draft

LaMelo Ball is the top prospect for the 2020 NBA Draft, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. American fans haven’t seen much of the youngest Ball brother because he’s playing in Australia’s National Basketball League, but he’s making a strong impression on NBA scouts.

According to Givony, Ball’s assets include unusual size for a point guard at 6-7, along with “impressive creativity, flair, poise and instincts operating off a live dribble.” He can pass with either hand and is especially skilled on the pick-and-roll. To improve his game, Givony believes Ball needs to become a more efficient scorer and show a stronger commitment to defense, but he still has the potential to become a franchise-altering player.

The rest of the top five includes Memphis center James Wiseman, Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, North Carolina guard Cole Anthony and combo guard R.J. Hampton, who is also playing in the ABL.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • This week normally marks the unofficial beginning of scouting season, but that’s changing because of the concept of “flight risk,” writes former league executive John Hollinger of The Athletic. Team officials who may be planning a trip to Australia to see Ball or Hampton in late December or January are taking the risk that they could shut down their seasons early to avoid injury if they believe their status as high lottery picks is secure.
  • Some of the top players in Greece are refusing to play for the national team as long as Rick Pitino is the head coach of Panathinaikos, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Former NBA player Kostas Papanikolaou joined Georgios Printezis and Antonis Koniaris to write a letter to the Greek federation, protesting Pitino’s recent return to their archrival and calling the situation “toxic.” Greece hasn’t earned a spot in the Olympics and will be part of a qualifying tournament in June.
  • Instead of making radical changes to the schedule and the playoffs, the NBA needs to do a better job of promoting its current product, contends Michael Lee of The Athletic. He observes that the league has large number of  “skilled, likable and marketable stars,” along with many international players to attract an overseas audience. He opposes a shortened schedule and an in-season tournament and points out that reason behind declining ratings is that it’s easier than ever for fans to enjoy the league through highlights on social media without dedicating the time to watch a full game.

By: Arthur Hill

Ball Children Hire Agent, Will Play Overseas

Written by Jeff Goodman at

LaVar Ball told ESPN that his sons LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball have signed with agent Harrison Gaines, ending any speculation that LaMelo will play college basketball. The plan is now for both to play on the same team overseas.

“I don’t care about the money,” LaVar Ball said on Thursday morning. “I want them to go somewhere where they will play them together on the court at the same time. The priority is for the boys to play on the same team.”

Ball said earlier this week that the plan was still for LaMelo, who withdrew from Chino Hills (California) High School early in his junior season, to play at UCLA in two years. However, the elder Ball told ESPN that won’t be the case.

“He’s not going to play college basketball,” Ball said.

Gaines also represents the oldest of the Ball brothers, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. LaVar Ball said Gaines has been dealing with various overseas clubs about LiAngelo and LaMelo. Sources told ESPN that several teams in Europe and Asia have expressed interest.

“I don’t know the deals and who is offering what,” Ball said. “I’m letting Harrison handle all that, but I know there are a few teams interested. I just need to get them playing again.”

Ball said he will likely spend time wherever his two youngest sons wind up playing, and he also intends to have their uncles go over and help.

“There will be three people with them all the time,” Ball said. “I’ll go back and forth and probably stay out there a while at first.”

Ball pulled LiAngelo from UCLA earlier in the week and told ESPN that he was frustrated that the school hadn’t made a final determination on the length of his son’s suspension following an arrest for shoplifting while in China last month.

Lonzo Ball said after the Lakers’ shootaround in Philadelphia on Thursday that his brothers signing with his agent was a “good decision” and the family discussed the matter beforehand.

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LaMelo Ball Drops Out of School, Will Be Trained By His Father

Written by Kyle Boone at CBS

Even by his own standards of outlandish acts, LaVar Ball — the father of Lakers rookie Lonzo and UCLA pledge LaMelo — has one-upped himself. According to the Los Angeles TimesBall is pulling his youngest son, LaMelo, out of high school in Chino Hills, California, to home-school and train him before he ventures off to college.

The decision to pull LaMelo out of high school was one that seemingly revolved around basketball and molding him into a stud college player and future NBA prospect.

“I’m going to make him the best basketball player ever,” LaVar told the Times.

LaMelo, a UCLA pledge who turned 16 in August, is a five-star prospect ranked as the No. 17 player in the Class of 2019 according to 247Sports. Listed as a point guard, Melo has made the viral rounds on social media multiple times over the past year, most recently for dropping his own signature sneaker a week after his 16th birthday.

“It’s good for Melo,” LaVar told the Times of his decision to pull him out of school“Less distractions. He just needs to focus.”

Lonzo, who starred at UCLA and was taken with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft by the Lakers, seemingly tuned out the distractions just fine at Chino Hills. But fortunately for LaMelo, he won’t have to worry about getting his brand new Lamborghini dinged in the parking lot now that he doesn’t have to drive to school.

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Social Media’s Favorite Stars Battle it Out In AAU Game

Written by Myron Medcalf at

In a chaotic scene Wednesday, officials and police officers blocked doors and ordered a police barricade outside the Cashman Center because of fire-code concerns an hour before LaVar Ball’s Big Ballers squad, led by his son and elite 2019 recruit LaMelo Ball, was scheduled to face top recruit Zion Williamson and SC Supreme.

The Adidas Uprising Summer Championships game was played despite the fear that it would be canceled.

Fans stood six and seven rows deep hours before Williamson and Ball were scheduled to play. Dozens of people were waiting to get into the building when event officials and officers banned anyone else from entering the building an hour before tipoff.

Chris Rivers, the organizer of this week’s championships in Las Vegas, said that local police gave the green light for the AAU teams to play only one minute before tipoff.

“Unreal. Never seen anything like it,” Kansas coach Bill Self, who was on hand for the game, told ESPN.

Best environment I’ve ever seen for an AAU game. LaMelo Ball going against Zion Williamson tipping shortly.

In addition to Self, NBA players Damian Lillard, Thon Maker, Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins and LaMelo’s oldest brother, Lonzo Ball, were on hand to watch SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory.

LeBron James had planned to watch the Ball-Williamson showdown courtside, but he did not get out of his vehicle after he arrived, instead deciding to avoid the frenzy after a conversation with people associated with the Adidas Uprising Summer Championships, a source told

James arrived with several people before choosing to skip an event that already had been dealing with overcrowding and local police threatening to shut it down, per the source.

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LaMelo Ball Might Not Be That Good At Basketball

Written by Ryan Glasspiegel at The Big Lead

This compilation video of LaMelo Ball lowlights from Saturday’s 52-point Big Ballers drubbing at the hands of the Compton Magic has been making the rounds. It shows LaMelo taking one ill-advised shot after another, and missing them badly. It’s striking imagery for two reasons: 1) LaMelo Ball is supposed to be good, no?, and 2) his older brother Lonzo, whose play at UCLA is the primary reason the family came to prominence, is a selfless distributor.

There is a school of thought that because LaMelo Ball is just 15 years old that this video is unfit for distribution and/or criticism. However, LaMelo Ball’s place in the ongoing platform-agnostic reality show presided over by his father, LaVar Ball, makes it worthy of discussion.

When LaVar Ball told Kristine Leahy to stay in her lane a couple weeks ago, most people felt he was out of line. Nevertheless, there was a vocal group of people on social media who felt that Leahy had inappropriately questioned his parenting methods when she said that Lonzo looked “terrified” to publicly disagree with his father. (To buttress her line of thinking: LaVar himself had previously told Colin Cowherd that Lonzo would never even privately disagree with him — and if he did “then I’d say ‘then you ain’t my son,’ my son don’t talk like that.”)

When LaMelo Ball scored 92 points in a high school game in February, it was national news. LaVar Ball has used the fact that he has three sons who are superb basketball players (ignoring for the moment that the middle brother, LiAngelo, is not as highly touted as his siblings) as justification for packaging for a billion-dollar shoe deal.

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