college basketball by August Prum December 6, 2017
On Monday, news broke that LaVar Ball was taking his middle son LiAngelo out of UCLA in order to prepare him for next year’s NBA Draft.
This comes after LiAngelo’s arrest in China for stealing LV shades caused somewhat of an international incident. The Ball patriarch has also taken his youngest son LaMelo (16) out of high school at Chino Hills to homeschool him.
The word out of the Ball camp is that LiAngelo isn’t looking to transfer to another school but instead look for opportunities overseas or just work out at home in preparation for the draft.
LaVar Ball: "He's not transferring to another school," he told ESPN. "The plan is now to get Gelo ready for the NBA Draft." The plan was always for LiAngelo to spend one season at UCLA and then leave, regardless of whether he was projected to be drafted.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) December 4, 2017
“I’m going to make him way better for the draft than UCLA ever could have,” LaVar told ESPN.
The issue here is that LiAngelo isn’t on the same level as his older brother Lonzo, who was drafted 2nd overall by the Lakers in June.
Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo’s The Vertical spoke to an NBA talent evaluator who analyzed LiAngelo’s prospects overseas. The scout told Eisenberg that LiAngelo matched the profile of someone in the Spanish third division,
“No young players, with the exception of the occasional DeAndre Ayton or Luka Doncic, are good enough to succeed in the top division overseas or in the G-League at 18 or 19 years old. LiAngelo could probably play third division in Spain, France or Germany. I doubt that’s what he has in mind.”
Talked to an NBA scouting exec about LiAngelo Ball, asked about his level. "He's got a chance at the Spanish League," he said, straight faced.
It IS a good league, I will note.
— Sean Deveney (@SeanDeveney) December 4, 2017
Apparently LaVar is advertising his two younger sons as a package deal. LaMelo is a top prospect at his age and is an intriguing talent much like his oldest brother, so it could sweeten any deal that a team is taking on for LiAngelo.
One team has emerged as a possible suitor for the younger Balls, Lietkabelis in the Lithuanian league is apparently interested… that is until the team’s coach made a (now-deleted) tweet referencing LiAngelo’s transgressions in China.
“Yes, we have an opening at the security staff since they have an experience in this field,” Lietkabelis head coach Arturs Stalbergs wrote.
We are all Lietkabelis Panevezys fans from now on… Hint: Arturs Stalbergs is the coach of the team… pic.twitter.com/bVNza5Xuyh
— Yannis Psarakis (@YPsar) December 5, 2017
For UCLA, where Lonzo starred for one year and the school that LaVar has previously claimed all of his sons would attend, this brings an end to a relationship that had been mutually beneficial.
ESPN’s Jeff Borzello wrote about that relationship and how it was no longer really necessary to uphold for either party,
“LiAngelo isn’t as good as Lonzo, but neither side could admit that. They had to play out the string, keeping up appearances. They were doing it for Lonzo, they were doing it for LaMelo. Once the buzz began about LaMelo not attending college, and once LiAngelo was arrested for shoplifting in China and then indefinitely suspended, it was clear neither side wanted to be in the relationship any longer.”
UCLA head coach Steve Alford, whose job may have been saved by Lonzo and his star-studded recruiting class, spoke to the media about his shock at LiAngelo’s (or LaVar’s?) decision to leave the program:
“I don’t think it’s angry. I think it was more, maybe, surprised. If you’re looking for one word, maybe it’s surprised because it’s nothing that we saw coming.”
Everyone seems to be piling on the Balls right now. Lonzo is struggling with the Lakers, LiAngelo got arrested and is now being trolled by coaches in the Lithuanian league, LaMelo is being home schooled. It’s definitely a weird situation but something tells me LaVar has some sort of plan for his younger two sons.
Whether or not LiAngelo can find a team overseas or get drafted next year, we’ll be talking about it, and there’s something to be said for that.