NBA

LaMelo Ball Went from Playing in Lithuania at 16 to Becoming a Top NBA Draft Prospect

LaMelo Ball did not have the typical path to get to the NBA draft. Unlike his older brother, Lonzo Ball, he did not play at a top college, and he took another route.

At 16-years-old, LaMelo became the youngest American player to play overseas. Now look at him, he is projected to be a top pick in the 2020 NBA draft.

A young LaMelo Ball

As the youngest brother, LaMelo Ball has always played against older competition. As a freshman in high school at Chino Hills, he was the starting point guard on a team that went undefeated and was ranked the No. 1 high school in the country. As a freshman, Ball played at a high level and proved to be one of the best players on the court. Playing with his older brothers Lonzo and LiAngelo, helped his game a lot.

Going into his sophomore year, LaMelo’s game improved. With Lonzo gone, LaMelo and LiAngelo were the two dominant players at Chino Hills. LaMelo had a breakout game where he scored 92 points in a game. Now that is impressive on any level. After that 92-point performance, the attention started to turn to LaMelo.

He wasn’t even a senior in high school yet, and he was selling out gyms during his high school games. LaMelo was a young star in the making. After his sophomore season, LaMelo’s dad, Lavar, decided to do the unthinkable and pull him out of high school to play overseas with LiAngelo.

LaMelo Ball in Lithuania

The brothers signed with Prienu Vytautas in Lithuania. There was a lot of hype surrounding the two going overseas to play together. But it was not a good move as far as getting playing time for the brothers. They came there thinking that they would get to showcase their skills against players older than them. For LaMelo, he really didn’t get much playing time at all.

Here you have a kid who’s 16 in a foreign country playing basketball when he’s supposed to be back home in the U.S. in high school. You have to think how much of an impact that had on LaMelo, but he said playing over there benefitted him in the long run. In an interview with GQ Australia, he talked about how being in Lithuania helped him out in the long run. “I grew up a lot and after doing that I felt I could go anywhere,” he said.

How LaMelo Ball’s game has evolved

Even though LaMelo Ball did not play in that many games in Lithuania, he still was able to learn from that trip and become a better basketball player. He took his game to another level over the next few years. LaMelo would go back overseas after finishing his highs school career at Spire Institute, where he dominated.

He decided to join the NBL in Australia and play for the Illawarra Hawks. This time, LaMelo was older and more mature and had success during his brief time in Australia. In Australia, he showed how much IQ he has playing the point guard position at his size. Now, he is that much closer from fulfilling his dream of playing in the NBA. There has not been a set date on to when the NBA draft will be, but one thing for sure is that LaMelo will hear his name called in the first few picks.