Ball headed to UCLA

UCLA landed its first 2017 commitment on Tuesday, picking up a pledge from small forward LiAngelo Ball. His father breaks down LiAngelo's reasons for choosing the Bruins.

UCLA landed an early commitment in Jan. 2014 when Chino Hills (Calif.) point guard Lonzo Ball pledged to the Bruins. A year later and there's another Ball making an early pledge to UCLA.

LiAngelo Ball, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound 2017 small forward from Chino Hills, ended his recruitment by choosing UCLA on Tuesday.

"Gelo has been working hard on his game and our plan was to get him committed to UCLA the same way at the same time," said LiAngelo's father, LaVar Ball. "I've got three monsters over here and all three of them are lined up to follow the same path. The little guy (2019 PG LaMelo Ball) is next."

According to LaVar, LiAngelo will help UCLA put points on the board.

"He brings that scoring mentality; he's a pure scorer," said LaVar. "He also has a high IQ for the game and most shooters, you have to have a good mind for that. What I mean by that is he doesn't get discouraged if he misses 20 shots or makes 20 shots.

"You never get too high or too low. I think to be the ultimate scorer, you have to be like that. You don't miss nine in a row and then just say, 'Well, I guess my game isn't on today.' He has so much confidence in his shot.

"He's a deadlier shooter than Lonzo. He can play the two or the three because when you pass him the ball, he's going to score it. When you pass the ball to Lonzo, he's going to see if somebody is open before he takes a shot."

UCLA's full court style of play was appealing for LiAngelo.

"With that up-tempo style, that's how we've been playing our whole life," LaVar said. "It's perfect. The name of the game is to put that ball in the hole and Gelo has always been Lonzo's running mate."

There has been speculation that LiAngelo joining Lonzo could keep the five-star 2016 prospect in school a year longer, but that's not the current plan as of today.

"I don't know," LaVar said. "It could. It depends how he does when he's there that first year. The plan the first year is to be one and done. All their goals is to play basketball in the NBA and the quicker the better. "

Regardless of what it means for Lonzo's career at UCLA, LaVar is confident in the kind of player the Bruins are getting in LiAngelo.

"Gelo is going to be a special player," he said. "Everyone sees Lonzo as a special player and Gelo is special in his own right. On every level, you have to get bigger and stronger and Gelo is like that naturally.

"He's 220 pounds right now at 16 years old. Next year, as a junior, he'll be at least 6-7 or 6-8 but he'll be 240. So now this is a player no one has ever seen before. What I mean by that is, how can your best shooter also be your best post up guy? That doesn't happen. When you see him, he'll be the strongest one on the team and also the best shooter.

"That's like saying Reggie Miller is your strongest guy on the team or saying Charles Barkley is your best shooter on the team. That's the mold that Gelo is going to be in and that's what Steve Alford sees in him, a scoring machine where you can't leave him a wide open jumper and you can't contain him on the block because he's too strong."

LiAngelo Ball is UCLA's first commitment of 2017.


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