We have all heard the saying “they save the best for last”. The popular phrase could end up applying to the Ball brothers. As Lonzo Ball heads to the NBA, his brothers will continue to be the focus of both high school and college basketball.
His youngest brother, LaMelo Ball, has been honing his skills against older players all his life. At just 15 years old, LaMelo has already become a high school phenom with a five-star recruiting ranking. LaMelo had enough skills to receive an offer from UCLA when he was 13.
For the last two years, he teamed up with the middle Ball brother, LiAngelo Ball, at Chino Hills. As LiAngelo heads to UCLA, LaMelo will be even more of a focal point this year.
If there is a person in the Ball family most like their father, LaVar Ball, it is LaMelo. Lonzo alluded to this in a letter he wrote to LaVar in The Players’ Tribune.
“People may not see it, but I possess the very same confidence that you have. (I think Melo got all of the talking genes.),” Lonzo wrote in The Players’ Tribune.
Here’s a look at the youngest Ball brother who does not lack for confidence.
1. UCLA Offered LaMelo a Scholarship When He Was 13 Years Old
Recruiting seems to be starting earlier and earlier. The Ball family can attest to that as UCLA offered LaMelo a scholarship at 13 years old. It makes a little more sense given the Ball brothers were an unspoken package deal. LaVar explained to CBS Sports why the family chose UCLA.
“If you know where you want to be, ain’t no use in looking around,” LaVar told CBS Sports. “I’m from California. My wife is from California. My boys are from California and don’t like the cold. So we eliminated all East Coast schools and then just asked, ‘OK, who’s the best team on the West Coast?’ It’s UCLA. … So the boys committed early, and now the UCLA coaches can recruit and build around my sons. It didn’t make any sense to drag it out.”
LaMelo will be headed to Westwood like his brothers, but not until 2019.
2. LaMelo Is Ranked as a Five-Star Recruit & Is One of the Nation’s Top 20 Players
LaMelo is a consensus five-star recruit on Rivals, 247 Sports and ESPN. Rivals, ESPN and 247 Sports all have LaMelo ranked as the 16th recruit in the country. He may be 15, but LaMelo already has quite the hoops game.
Here’s how ESPN described his game in a scouting report:
Melo is physically and mentally developing at a rapid pace. Melo is no longer just a volume shooter who plays under his older brothers’ shadows. Melo can lead, pass and score at the point guard position. Melo’s play making skills are flashy but accurate…Mentally, Melo Ball is an alpha who leads vocally and is not scared of the moment.
He has grown physically but still has a long ways to go to be able to impact on the next level physically. Melo’s shot selection is a bit erratic but that’s due to his teams style of play…Melo has all the makings of a developing five star prospect…Melo has so much of the same physical attributes as Lonzo but he’s a better scorer and much more mentally tougher prospect at the same age…Upside is through the roof.
3. He Scored 92 Points in a High School Game
LaMelo dropped 92 points in a game for Chino Hills, but the performance was not without its critics. Clips of LaMelo not getting back on defense went viral. The opposing coach felt as though his team was being shown up.
LaMelo dedicated the performance to Lexi Anderson, a young girl in need of a heart transplant. He tweeted out #love4lexi after the game.
While LaMelo may have his critics, his father was supportive of the performance. LaVar spoke to ESPN after the game.
“My boys get mad when they lose,” LaVar told ESPN. “[LaMelo] started on fire. Just attacking the rim. They tried to double- and triple-team him after he scored 45.”
As USA Today pointed out, LaMelo’s performance even caught the attention of NFL players like Todd Gurley and Jared Goff. They talked about going to see him play in person.
4. LaMelo Pulled Up From Half-Court During a Game & Made the Shot
It looks like LaMelo has all the makings to be what Bill Simmons calls an “Irrational Confidence Guy”. It is a term used to describe players who will take shots anywhere on the court, with previous missed shots having no impact on his decision to launch the next one.
As the above video shows, LaMelo pulled up from half-court during a game, and it went in. LaMelo dribbled to half court, pointed at the line and launched the shot. LaMelo’s shot went viral and prompted a number of similar shots across the country
5. He Is the Youngest in the Ball Family & Is Used to Playing Against Older Players
All LaMelo has known is playing against older competition on the court. Given he is the youngest of three brothers, he has been following his older brothers to the gym his whole life. Playing against older players who were bigger, faster and stronger allowed LaMelo to develop aspects of his game that he might not have been able to otherwise.
There are some that believe LaMelo could end up being the best player of the three Ball brothers given his advanced skill set at such a young age. His oldest brother, Lonzo, is not ready to give up that title, yet.
“People say Melo is going to be the best out of all of us. We’ll see,” Lonzo told CBS Sports.