You’ve already heard me gush about the new Fresh Prince of Bel Air, UCLA’s incredible freshman point guard Lonzo Ball. The most astonishing aspect of his skill set is his vision. The creativity that he brings to the floor cannot be taught, as his passes come from unorthodox angles, and he’s equally adept at delivering them with either hand or both. Oh, I forgot to mention that he also has a 40-inch vertical leap.
Watching him play alongside his brothers at Chino Hills High School last year, where they were named prep national champions, I was not only struck by how deep he was pulling up from behind the three-point line, but also the beauty and complexity of his inbounds and outlet passes.
While the 6-foot-6 Lonzo has taken the college hoops world by storm in leading UCLA to an undefeated season thus far and a #2 ranking, it’s business as usual for his brothers back at Chino Hills.
If you’ve ever played serious ball, you know that there’s nothing more demoralizing to a defender than telling him what you’re going to do, and then proceeding to give him the business in that exact form and fashion. Well, Lonzo’s baby brother LaMelo, a 5-foot-10, 14-year-old high school sophomore, took that concept up to an entirely different level when he told the man guarding him that he was pulling up from halfcourt.
To say, “I’m going left,” is one thing, but to say, “I’m ’bout to bang this on you from halfcourt”?
And then to go ahead and splash it? Now that’s downright disrespectful! Check out what he did during Chino Hills’ 47th consecutive win yesterday.
It’s too bad that Lonzo will be cashing an NBA paycheck next year when the next Ball brother, 6-foot-5 LiAngelo, suits up at UCLA, and on down the road when LaMelo does the same three years from now.
In case you hadn’t already heard, that halfcourt shot wasn’t the illest accomplishment of the younger Ball brothers this year. That honor would have to go to LiAngelo, who tossed up performances of 73, 65 and 56 points in the season’s first few weeks.
The Ball Brothers’ father LaVar had a plan in place before his sons were even born. A native of South Central Los Angeles, he played at Washington State on a hoops scholarship back in the day before transferring to Cal State Los Angeles.
LaVar and his wife enrolled LaMelo in school a year early with the grand plan of having the brothers, whose nicknames are Melo, Gelo and Zo, play one year in high school together. Lonzo and LiAngelo committed to UCLA as high school sophomores while LaMelo followed suit after the eighth grade.
With a last name like Ball, it doesn’t take Captain Obvious to tell you that they’re ballin’ out. But behind the crazy passes and ridiculous long jumpers is a work ethic that’s been instilled in them since they first stepped on the court.
So if you think UCLA better enjoy the ride while the getting is good before Lonzo jets to the NBA next year, think again. There’s more ballin’ to come.