The California native is the youngest of three Balls who will suit up for Steve Alford’s program, as the 5-9 LaMelo joins rising junior LiAngelo and Lonzo — one the country’s best rising senior guards — as future Bruins at Chino Hills High.
LaMelo is a little guy, not surprising given his age. But like his older brothers, he demonstrates a capacity for long-range triples as well as short jumpers along the baseline. Playing up three years in age this summer on the travel circuit, he joined his older siblings last week in Las Vegas at the Adidas Championships.
”The last time they’ll all play together is this year in high school,” said Ball’s father, LaVar, “so I’m just going to enjoy it. All my boys are going to UCLA, so I’m fine as wine.”
With three sons headed to the same school spread between four different classes, the family and the Bruins’ coaching staff naturally will become intimately acquainted for the foreseeable future. While it’s highly likely that Lonzo will exit college for the NBA prior to LaMelo’s matriculation to campus, the Ball family will exert a tremendous impact on the program for 6-8 consecutive years.
”We have a great relationship with Steve Alford,” said LaVar. “I trust him with my sons and know he will take them to another level I can’t take them.”
Committing so early can have downsides for some players, who may find that either their own or their college choice’s scenario has changed prior to their arrival. But in the case of the Balls, the continuity from one sibling to the next should prove highly beneficial.
”Now, we don’t have to worry about recruiting,” LaVar said. “The goal is to get 10 times better between now and when they get (to UCLA). LaMelo has an advantage because he has been playing against way more experienced players than his brothers at the same age. He wants to be better than them and his older brothers can lead the way.”
While most recruitments naturally include assistants as point men, the elder Ball cites a personal relationship with Alford as critical.
”He’s genuinely involved with my sons and their development,” Ball said. “I don’t care what people say or write about Steve, I trust him with my boys.”