Instead of trying his luck in the U.S. collegiate scene, LaMelo Ball — the younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball — joined the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) earlier this year as a means to prepare himself for a possible NBA career once he becomes eligible to be drafted. While many remain highly skeptical as to whether the move could indeed help LaMelo achieve his goal of becoming the first overall pick in next year’s rookie draft, one of last year’s top NBA newcomers recently sounded off on his expectations for the 17-year-old guard if he decides to enter the 2020 draft pool.
Speaking to TMZ over the weekend, Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young offered his thoughts to the publication when he was asked if he believes Ball could become a top-three pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
“Possibly, yeah for sure. He’ll be ready the by the time he gets to the league,” said Young, who made first-team All-Rookie honors for the Hawks in the 2018-19 NBA season.
“He’ll be good in the league. If he’s No. 1, No. 2, No. 3… regardless, he’ll be a good player.”
As noted by Bleacher Report, LaMelo Ball has had an “interesting” career thus far after having originally played for Chino Hills High School in California and committed to UCLA. After a “falling out” between LaMelo’s father, Big Baller Brand founder LaVar Ball, and Chino Hills’ head coach, the young guard then played basketball in Lithuania and later suited up for the Junior Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Ballers. Last season, he resumed his prep career at Spire Institute in Ohio, where he was classified as a high school senior.
https://t.co/kabS5oLg8L LaMelo Ball is the TRUTH, according to Trae Young.
— TMZ Sports (@TMZ_Sports) July 21, 2019
Although Ball previously had plans of playing college basketball, Bleacher Report quoted his father as saying that the NCAA wanted to “prove a point” by making it hard for his youngest son to attend college. The outlet added that LaVar Ball was similarly against the idea of LaMelo playing basketball in the NBA’s G League as a stepping stone to the big time.
“The G League, I’m not going to let no 28, 29-year-old dudes tee off on him and try to make a name for himself, so he’s definitely going overseas.”
In the light of Trae Young’s comments about LaMelo Ball being a potential top-three draft pick next year, it appears that he’s one of the few who believe the 6-foot-6-inch guard is worthy of such a high selection. USA Today‘s Lonzo Wire opined that Ball “realistically” seems to be a late first-round prospect at this point, but with the 2020 draft class expected to be a weak one, the publication speculated that his lack of public exposure in recent years may be a key reason behind his generally low rating as a draft prospect.