LaMelo Ball is going back to high school. After playing in Lithuania, where he played professionally for the BC Vytautas and the Junior Basketball Association, an amateur league started by his father, LaVar, LaMelo is set to enroll at SPIRE Academy, a specialized performance training and academic facility of 45 students in Geneva, Ohio.
Unlike most back to school stories on the silver screen, LaMelo isn’t returning for closure from some social catastrophe; he wasn’t too dumb to finish or is in search of some life lesson he missed. LaMelo is back for one reason and one reason only — and that’s to get his diploma and win a national championship.
My youngest son Melo has decided to complete his Senior year of highshool at Spire Prep Academy in Geneva Ohio. He will earn his highschool diploma, and help lead his new team to W’s!
The Greatest Show in Highschool Hoops is Back! #classof2019 #MB1 #BBB pic.twitter.com/Ryhg37WPCr
— Lavar Ball (@Lavarbigballer) November 6, 2018
Being a Ball brother and a part of the Big Baller Brand machine, it’s easy to forget that he is still 17-years-old. For one, Lavar Ball — who is his dad, BBB CEO and former coach — doesn’t help by constantly making headlines; the BBB merchandise is priced notoriously high and they have the youngest athlete with a signature shoe ever. It’s hard to hide under the spotlight of the Triple B’s.
But when you take a step back away from the headlines you realize that this is a game and at the end of the day you want these students to enjoy their lives. Last year when LaMelo Ball initially decided to forgo his junior and senior year of high school to train for UCLA, and the world was shocked.
How could a 15-year-old boy be taken away from what school? He’s still a kid. Is he making the decision on his own or is he being influenced? Is this right?
LaVar Ball has long been vocal about all three of his boys playing for both the UCLA and the Lakers so, naturally, people felt he was living out his dream through his kids when really wanted the best possible opportunity for his children’s talent. LaVar even told the Los Angeles Times last year,
“I’m going to make him [LaMelo] the best basketball player ever”
One year later, however, it seems that the course has changed.
Because he was not paid for any of his stints professionally he is still eligible to play his senior year in high school and one has to think that was the plan all along. However, despite his massive following and eye-popping highlights, it is a wonder what kind of high school player he’ll be. Is he, as LaVar says, the greatest show in high school basketball?
In the 2016-17 high school season at Chino Hills High in California, he averaged 27.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 9.6 assists. He scored 92 points in one game, but his team scored 146 and but by the second half he wasn’t running back on defense when the other team had the ball.
When he plays against older and more mature players, as he did in Lithuania, his game struggled. He averaged 6.5 points-per-game average while also averaging 2.4 assists overseas. But when he played for in his dad’s league in the JBA, his stats soared again: 40 points per game in 11 outings, while averaging 13.8 rebounds and 11.0 assists. He even had nearly four steals per game.
While his game can be a bit unpredictable, what’s clear is that the 6’3 160-pound guard has talent; which may be why his dad elected to put him against the nation’s top players.
SPIRE faces a host of top prep school teams, including La Lumiere School in Indiana, Prolific Prep of Napa, California, and Oak Hill Academy of Mouth of Wilson, Virginia.
Whether he plateaus against the other NBA-type talent or blossoms like he did when he was at Chino and the JBA is still to be determined but I doubt there will be much of an in-between. That is if the internet will let him have an in-between, anyway.
All we can do is sit back at wait to see.