Point guard LaMelo Ball has a 92-point spree in the Chino Hills victory over Los Osos Tuesday night
UCLA already has freshman star Lonzo Ball, LiAngelo on his way next season, LaMelo in 2019. Quite a trio!
By ARNIE LESHIN
They will be having a "ball" at UCLA until at least 2020.
They are the Ball brothers, 6-foot-6 freshman star Lonzo already there as the Blue and Gold's starting point guard, and who is as versatile right now as any other player in the land. He does it all, scores, assists, rebounds.
But so do his two younger brothers both at California's third-ranked Chino Hills. And when the Huskies' 61-game win streak was halted last Friday night by fifth-ranked Oak Hill Academy of Virginia, the youngest, 6-2 sophomore point guard LaMelo, took matter into his own hands.
This, while his brother, 6-5 senior LiAngelo, was recovering from an ankle injury and sidelined until the state playoffs. Earlier this season LiAngelo scored 72 in a game. The two have led Chino Hills to 26 wins in 27 starts and 7-0 in district. They came into this season with 43 straight victories.
"My boys get mad when they lose," said their dad, Lavar, the spokesman for the usually quiet trio. "and so LaMelo just took over."
Took over he did. He poured in 92 points in the 146-123 win over Los Osos Tuesday night. It was the most scored in a high school game since 2003, when Tigran Gegorian of California's Pico Rivera went for 100. it was also the fifth highest tossed in in 25 years.
In 2001, DuJan Wagner of Camden High in New Jersey, and the son of former Camden, Louisville and NBA star Milt Wagner, scored 100, except that the next day, Cedric Hensley of Heritage Christian in Cleveland, Tex., did the same.
Getting back to the youngest Ball, who stretched from 5-8 as an 8th grader to a present 6-2, he was hailed as a high scoring threat, but until now he'd been averaging a modest 20.2 a game while dishing off to his brother. He's the kind of player who does whatever is needed.
This time, he needed to make a statement, start a new winning skein. He was good on 37-of-61 2s and 7-of-22 on 3s. He converted 11-of-14 free throws, even handed out eight assists and came away with six steals and brought down nine rebounds, most of them on the offensive boards.
"When he had 29 at halftime," his dad said, "I unleashed him, then he went crazy. When he reached 45, they double and triple-teamed him. Except that when he's hot, he's hot, and I've been watching it for years. My boys know how to bounce back from a loss."
LaMelo really put it all together in the fourth quarter. Mixing up drives to the basket, steals that led to points, put-back on rebounds, and outside shooting, he turned in 41 points over the last eight minutes.
"I was dedicating it to my classmate", Lexi, he said, "who is in the hospital."
In regard to Lonzo and how long he will stay with the Bruins, he probably won't be declaring for the NBA after this season, not with LiAngelo already committed to UCLA. After that, well LaMelo already committed back in December of 2015, one year after Lonzo and LiAngelo had done so.
So those that think that there will be only one Ball on next year's Bruin team, they best think again. One thing Lavar and his three talented sons would like is to have them together in the UCLA lineup.
So would head coach Steve Alford. Their dad and the boys have had a love for the Bruins since their younger days in the gyms and playgrounds.
Together as an AAU team, they lost once in two years. Together again is their fondest wish.
Which is why they will be having a "ball" playing at Pauley Pavilion. How long, only they can decide?