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It has been quite the 365 plus days for LaMelo Ball. The youngest Ball brother has taken the most unconventional path in recent memory to achieve a goal so few are able to reach, and in his latest move, it appears he is well on his way.
In 2018, Ball began his journey almost 6,000 miles from his comfortable home in Chino Hills, Calif., to the cold and drafty town of Prienai, Lithuania.
There, he and his brother, LiAngelo, played in the LKL, a very respectable professional league for BC Vytautas, which had by far the worst record in the league.
It was clear from the outset Ball did not want to be there, and his numbers and lack of playing time reflected such as he averaged a mere 6.5 points and 2.4 assists in 12.8 minutes in only eight games. After injuries forced him to sit the remaining few games, he then took his talents to the JBA League, a league in which his father, LaVar created.
There were far brighter times for Ball in the JBA League, where he was the marquee player for its upstart. Ball averaged a triple-double of 40 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 11 assists.
With skepticism from critics of the league’s overall talent, Ball was not getting the attention he deserved from scouting services who rarely veer from the traditional route when evaluating prospects. While the decision was difficult, LaMelo left the JBA USA international tour, and enrolled in Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio.
The return to high school could not be going any better for Ball. He is garnering the attention he did when he previously played for Chino Hills and the scouts are beginning to notice his play — again.
A scout told NBADraft.net on LaMelo, “His court vision, passing, and ball handling is very impressive. Best passer I’ve seen in awhile, brings out the best in Isaiah Jackson. Very unselfish and didn’t force his scoring.”
The latter part of this statement is telling being this was a huge knock on him during his last stint in high school. For those who watched Chino Hills, it was evident Ball could score — and really enjoyed doing so. He famously (or infamously — depending on which side you’re on) scored 92 points in a game. That feat in and of itself is no small task, so he has demonstrated this ability for quite some time.
However, he was labeled by some as selfish, and unwilling to get his teammates involved, which was a stark contrast to his older brother, Lonzo.
Now, his game is beginning to come full circle. The 6-foot-7, 17-year-old is showcasing transcendent skills with the ability to score and facilitate at an elite level. He’s never been known as a staunch defender, but he is progressing in this area and has the physical tools to be elite as well.
Keep an eye on the youngest Ball brother. He just may be the best of the three.