LaMelo Ball’s unique and widely-criticized journey from Chino Hills HS star to Lithuania to Spire Institute to the NBL to now being considered a candidate for the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft is a blueprint for how Lavar Ball has helped to change the game.
One ambitious Dad and his three sons challenged conventional wisdom, high school basketball in the state of California, the NCAA, the NBA, and the wheels of fate. Then they survived the fall of Big Baller Brand and dissension within the ranks, all the while sticking to the plan and still coming out on top.
If Melo does go Top 3 in the 2020 NBA Draft, he would have done so without the benefit of major brand support like Duke or Kansas or North Carolina. Betting on himself, traveling thousands of miles away from home to mature, get stronger, play the game at a faster pace and higher level without the restrictions of the NCAA was always the goal. Which also meant being completely out of the limelight, save for a few episodes of Ball in The Family on Facebook that kept the brand lit with the younger generation.
He was willing to take two steps back as far as national notoriety and respect as a baller goes, to eventually rise like a Phoenix and we are in the midst of a slow rise that will have become a seismic boom by Draft Day.
— Overtime (@overtime) November 25, 2019
Media haters can no longer use the disdain they hold for Lavar or his non-conforming measures as an excuse to dismiss the potential greatness of LaMelo Ball who has blossomed into a 6-foot-7 multifaceted killer who can freak positions, shoot from long range, facilitate and has an insane hoops IQ. He’s pro-ready.
In Melo’s first National Basketball League game he became the youngest player in league history to record a triple-double with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists — on Monday.
🚨 LaMelo Ball Triple-Double 🚨
— The NBL (@NBL) November 25, 2019
18-year-old Melo led his Illawarra Hawks to 114-106 overtime win over the Cairns Taipans.
“There’s plenty of good players in the league, but it’s the great ones that have the ability to get the best out of their teammates, which is what LaMelo is doing. He’s a completely different player when he arrived here and he’s only going to get better than more time he spends in the court.“
Melo is averaging 16.3 points, 7.1 boards and 6.7 assists per game. NBA guru Champ (ESPN Stephen A. Smith Show contributor and Champ & The Gambler co-host) has been singing this kid’s praises for years and always has the inside connection to what Melo is doing.
Most of the time, it’s working. Away from the hype of and criticisms of social media. Just a baller trying to quietly but emphatically fulfill his destiny and bring that luster, that legend back to the Ball Family name.
Check out this private workout recently.
Spreading His Wings, Healthy Growth
He’s also away from his Dad for the first time in his life. Spire Institute head coach Jermaine Jackson has taken the role as chaperone. Let’s credit Lavar with understanding Melo’s need for space and not wanting to revisit some mistake she undoubtedly made before with Zo.
From LaMelo’s Slam feature:
Wherever LaMelo goes, he’ll be without the regular supervision of LaVar for the first time in his life. Instead, he’ll be accompanied by Jermaine Jackson, his coach at SPIRE who recently moved to Chino Hills to stay with the family and work as LaMelo’s trainer and manager. Despite the age gap—Jackson is 42—the two are practically inseparable.
Jackson is a former NBA player (1999-2006) that has extensive experience in the overseas market from the Yakima Sun Kings with the now-defunct CBA to Maccabi Haifa B.C. in Israel.
Without Lavar involved in the day to day dealings and mixing fatherhood with business, Melo’s game has exploded. Don’t get it twisted though. His Dad might not be present and vocal in the media, but he’s still directing traffic.
Instead of doing what Zion Williamson did at Duke and making the university millions of dollars in exchange for being associated with college basketball’s supreme brand and improving his draft stock, Melo makes all of the scouts come to him and the Hawks constantly have a parade of scouts following the team.
This is just the beginning. As the NBA Draft draws nearer, you will begin to hear Melo’s name a lot more and he will emerge as a fixture in national sports conversations.
— Overtime (@overtime) November 25, 2019
And you know what that means. Most probably a rebirth of Lavar Ball and an emphatic “I told you so” from the mastermind everybody thought was just an overbearing, loud talking brother on borrowed time.
Lavar was playing chess while everybody else was playing checkers. He predicted that all three of his sons would be NBA lottery picks and play for the Lakers.
The Hype Is Real
It hasn’t quite worked out that way, but two of the three are doing damn good for themselves. LaVar built an empire off his son’s potential and the ability to gift for gab his way onto the television screens and social media outlets of every sports fan across the country.
In fact, he was back on social chirping a bit and obviously feeling good about the future.
I believe @PelicansNBA will draft melo ball next year and sign gelo to a 10 day contract which will get extended. Lavar ball will look like a genius when it's said and done. The Pelicans will become must see tv!
— Biggwest (@BiggWest_) November 23, 2019
He hyped his first-born Lonzo all the way to the No. 2 overall pick of the draft and anointed Lakers’ savior. When his second-oldest, LiAngelo proved to lack the mental and physical makeup needed to advance to the next level, the traditionalists and purists LaVar pissed off by bucking the system — and encouraging players to shun the exploitative NCAA and go where they can play for pay right out of high school — pronounced him a blowhard, said the big Baller Brand dynasty was over and pitted him against his son Lonzo in the media.
LaVar was raked through the coals when he took Melo out of high school and sent him overseas to get paid, develop and play against grown men. They acted as if guys such as Tony Parker and Luka Doncic didn’t benefit from playing pro ball overseas and developing their game instead of participating in the restrictive and talent-inhibiting college basketball circus.
Lonzo hasn’t panned out to the level that was projected — yet. Maybe he was never that good, but his Daddy knows how to make a hard close in a deal and he could probably charm the pants off a nun.
If you’ve been studying The Ball Family then Lavar told us from the beginning, that Melo Ball was going to be the one to really put his thing down in the NBA.
If Melo goes Top 3 in the NBA Draft then we have to agree that LaVar and his boys changed the game and helped further expose the insignificance of NCAA participation for those players destined for fame either way.