LiAngelo Robert Ball (born November 24, 1998) is an American professional basketball player who currently plays for the Los Angeles Ballers of the Junior Basketball Association (JBA). Ball competed for Chino Hills High School in Chino Hills, California for four years, winning the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) state championship in his junior year. He is the son of media personality LaVar Ball and the younger brother of current NBA player Lonzo Ball.
Ball committed to play college basketball with the UCLA Bruins but was suspended indefinitely with two other teammates after they were arrested in China for shoplifting. He later joined the Vytautas Prienai–Birštonas in Lithuania. After an one season in Lithuania, he went undrafted and signed with Los Angeles Ballers of the Junior Basketball Association (JBA)
Early life Edit
Ball was born in the Los Angeles metropolitan area in Anaheim, California, to LaVar and Tina Ball, who were both former college basketball players. The 6-foot-6-inch (1.98 m) LaVar played at Washington State before transferring to Cal State Los Angeles, where the 6-foot (1.8 m) Tina was also playing. A two-sport athlete, LaVar also played American football professionally for the London Monarchs in the World League of American Football.
In his childhood, Ball often played basketball against older opponents, facing teams of fourth and fifth-graders while in kindergarten. He started working out and training by age four and first competed with both of his brothers, Lonzo and LaMelo, at age six. As a seven-year-old, he also began playing flag football with his brothers. While Lonzo was a quarterback, LiAngelo and LaMelo caught passes. On the basketball court, LiAngelo grew up playing with his brothers on Big Ballers VXT, an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) under-17 team created by their father and coached by both parents. As a seventh-grader in August 2011, he and his brothers took part in the Junior Phenom Camp, which featured P. J. Washington and Billy Preston. Ball was ranked the 12th best player in his class at the event by The Hoop Scoop Online and played in the all-star game for his age group.
High school career Edit
In his freshman season in 2013–14, Ball began playing for Chino Hills High School in Chino Hills, California, where he was coached by Steve Baik and was a member of a starting lineup that featured his brother Lonzo Ball, a sophomore at the time. On December 4, 2013, he scored 13 points, with six in the second quarter, in a 72–63 win over Pasadena High School. He recorded 24 points on December 19 to defeat Rancho Cucamonga High School, as Chino Hills posted a school-record 122 points. Following the performance, the Los Angeles Times labeled the one-two punch of LiAngelo and Lonzo Ball as "quite a duo." In early March 2014, Chino Hills made its first-ever CIF Southern Section Open Division championship game appearance, with Ball scoring 14 points in a 48–44 loss to Mater Dei High School.On March 22, he notched 10 points as his team fell in overtime to Centennial High School at the Southern California Regional Division I final.
In the summer prior to his 2014–15 sophomore campaign for Chino Hills, Ball suffered a foot injury, keeping him out of a tournament at Fairfax High School in June 2014. On September 14, 2014, he scored 30 points to beat Cathedral High School, 104–96, at the Ron Massey Memorial Fall Hoops Classic. He helped his team win the event by scoring 35 points, with seven three-pointers, in a title game victory against Maranatha High School. He averaged almost 30 points per game at the tournament and shared most valuable player accolades with Lonzo. Entering the season, Chino Hills was ranked the 22nd best high school team in the nation by MaxPreps, and Ball, who was considered one of its key returning players with Lonzo, was joined by cousin Andre Ball. In the quarterfinals of a tournament hosted by Maranatha High School in December 2014, Ball tallied 53 points in a 111–80 win over Dorsey High School. He concluded the event with 33 points vs. Maranatha as his team finished in third place.On January 31, 2015, in another win over Maranatha at the Fairfax State Preview Classic, Ball scored a game-high 36 points. Towards the end of his sophomore season, a severe ankle sprain sidelined him for four games, but he managed to return for the playoffs. On March 28, Chino Hills reached the CIF State Division I championship game, where they lost in double overtime to San Ramon Valley High School, 79–71, despite 23 points and a game-tying three-pointer in overtime from Ball. Following the season, on April 21, he verbally committed to play college basketball for the UCLA Bruins, becoming the program's first verbal commit from the class of 2017. He was rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com.
"That's a hell of a team. I've never seen anything quite like that. It's unreal. Their basketball IQ is unreal, it just seems like they have been together their whole lives. To be able to pass like that and know where everybody is at, you just don't see it like that with high school kids. Do I like the style of basketball? No. But it's a system and they run it well."
Entering Ball's junior season in 2015–16, USA Today High School Sports ranked Chino Hills as the 8th best team in the country. In November 2015, MaxPreps named them among its early contenders for the high school basketball season. With the team's introduction of LiAngelo's younger brother and freshman LaMelo, who was expected to immediately contribute, its roster featured all three Ball brothers: LaMelo, LiAngelo, and Lonzo Ball. The roster also featured their cousin, Andre. In Chino Hills' season opener on November 30, 2015, LiAngelo Ball scored 20 points in a 131–42 victory over San Bernardino High School at the Battle Zone tournament in Centennial High School. He recorded 27 points in the event's championship, leading Chino Hills to a 106–86 win against Foothills Christian High School. Ball drew attention at the City of Palms Classic in December 2015, where he scored 32 points to upset top-ranked Montverde Academy in the quarterfinals.He followed up with a 40-point semifinals effort vs. High Point Christian Academy, shooting 13-of-27 from the field, as his team eventually won the title game in overtime. Ball earned City of Palms Classic All-Tournament honors.
By 2016, Chino Hills was ranked as the number-one team in the nation and was drawing attention across the United States. In a match-up with Jonesboro High School at the MaxPreps Holiday Classic, Ball had 41 points and helped Chino Hills win the tournament with 21 points in the final game. On February 11, he led all scorers with 32 points against Etiwanda High School, as Chino Hills finished the regular season with a 27–0 record. The team was known for its fast-paced offense, scoring over 100 points in 18 games in 2015–16. In the following week, Ball and his brothers were the focus of a story by The New York Times titled "High Octane Is a Brotherly Blend." In the CIF Southern Section Open Division semifinals on February 27, he chipped in a game-high 34 points to defeat Mater Dei High School, 102–54. He scored 31 points in his next game to claim the section title over Sierra Canyon School. Chino Hills built off its success in the state playoffs in March, as Ball recorded 27 points to help his team beat Bishop Montgomery High School and earn a state championship berth. On March 26, he had 18 points and seven rebounds to win the title game over De La Salle High School at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California, closing out Chino Hills' 35–0 season. As a junior, Ball averaged a team-high 27.4 points per game and earned MaxPreps second-team all-state and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin first-team All-Area accolades. His team was named mythical national champion by MaxPreps, who also labeled their title run "perhaps the best brother act in high school basketball history."
For Ball's senior season in 2016–17, Chino Hills lost star point guard Lonzo Ball and head coach Steve Baik, hiring Stephan Gilling at the latter position. Regardless, the team was considered the 12th best in the nation by USA Today High School Sports. Ball quickly made headlines in his final season for his high-scoring performances at the Battle Zone tournament in November 2016. On November 29, he recorded 56 points in a 121–89 win over Lutheran High School of Orange County at the event. In his following game of the tournament, which was played on the next day, Ball scored 72 points, with 13 three-pointers, to defeat Rancho Christian School, 128–108. At the time, it was the 10th highest individual scoring total in California high school basketball history. In the Battle Zone championship game later in the week against Long Beach Polytechnic High School, Ball scored 28 points and made a game-winning three-pointer. He claimed tournament most valuable player honors. He had another strong showing on December 26, when he erupted for 65 points in a Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational win over Foothill High School.
In January 2017, MaxPreps announced Ball as a front runner for the website's player of the year award, even though he was not a candidate for McDonald's All-American Game. On January 20, 2017, Ball scored 60 points to lead Chino Hills to a 136–93 triumph vs. Los Osos High School. Seven days later, he notched 52 points and 10 three-pointers in a victory against Damien High School. Gilling said after the game, "I've known Gelo a long time, and those shots are part of his genetic makeup." On February 4, Ball lost his first high school game since 2015, with Oak Hill Academy ending Chino Hills' 60-game winning streak, the third-longest in California history. In the first round of the CIF Southern Section Open Division Playoffs vs. JSerra Catholic High School on February 17, he scored a game-high 33 points en route to a 105–74 victory. His team fell in the playoff semifinals to Bishop Montgomery High School, who overcame a 25-point performance by Ball to win, 87–80. After a 30–3 season, he was named All-Area Player of the Year by The San Bernardino Sun and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and earned CIF Southern Section All-Open Division honors. Ball was also a first-team All-State and honorable mention All-American selection by MaxPreps. In addition, he averaged 33.8 points per game as a senior, leading the state of California in scoring. Ball's season total of 1,018 points ranked 10th all-time for CIF Southern Section (CIF-SS) players. He also finished high school as the fourth-leading scorer in CIF-SS history, with 2,918 career points.
|Name||Hometown||High school / college||Height||Weight||Commit date|
|Chino Hills (CA)||Chino Hills (CA)||6 ft 5.3 in (1.96 m)||220 lb (100 kg)||Apr 21, 2015|
|Recruiting star ratings: Scout: N/A Rivals: 247Sports: ESPN: ESPN grade: 79|
|Overall recruiting rankings: 247Sports: 226, 50 (SG), 22 (CA) ESPN: 41 (SF), 16 (CA)|
College career Edit
Despite his success at Chino Hills, Ball remained a largely unheralded prospect and was rated a consensus three-star recruit out of high school. 247Sports.com ranked him outside of their top-200 recruits nationally and as the 50th best shooting guard in his class. Having already committed to play for the UCLA Bruins as a high school sophomore, Ball signed a letter of intent on November 2, 2016 and finally enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles on June 1, 2017. He was projected to be a reserve for during his 2017–18 freshman season for UCLA, whose backcourt was led by freshman Jaylen Hands and junior Aaron Holiday. He made his preseason debut for the Bruins on November 1, 2017 against NCAA Division II team Cal State Los Angeles, scoring 11 points and shooting 4-of-8 from the field.
Shoplifting incident Edit
On November 7, 2017, days before UCLA's regular season opener against Georgia Tech in Shanghai, China, Ball and two other freshman teammates were arrested in Hangzhou for allegedly stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store at a high-end shopping center near their team hotel. The trio potentially faced a fine and three to ten years in prison. Soon after, Ball and his teammates were released from custody and they flew back to America. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly credited efforts by U.S. President Donald Trump and the United States Department of State for the result. Meanwhile, Trump demanded the players thank him for his efforts. In a subsequent press conference, Ball admitted to stealing and thanked Trump for helping him leave China. On March 3, 2018, ESPN reported that the three players had also stolen sunglasses and bracelets from two other stores within 90 minutes of their first theft, the players had been bailed out before the public learnt of their arrests, and that the charges against the players had been dropped two days before any involvement by President Trump or Chief of Staff Kelly.
As a result of his shoplifting incident, Ball was suspended indefinitely from the UCLA basketball program. On December 4, he announced that he planned to withdraw from UCLA; his father LaVar had grown frustrated over the length of the suspension. After having conflict with the head coach his father LaVar confirmed that he would take the two out of the team and Ball returned to UCLA, where he remained suspended for the rest of the season. Ball fully believed for many months that he would eventually return to the U.S.A. though he figured it would happen in the summer of 2018.
Professional career Edit
Vytautas Prienai–Birštonas (2018) Edit
Although Ball was not considered a prospect at the time for the National Basketball Association (NBA), he planned on preparing for the 2018 NBA draft with LaVar Ball following his departure from UCLA. On December 11, 2017, he signed with Vytautas Prienai–Birštonas of the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL), along with his more heralded younger brother LaMelo, who was also skipping college basketball after dropping out from Chino Hills before his junior year. They signed contracts for the remainder of the season, with both sides having the option to terminate the deal after one month. Ball started playing for the team in January 2018, with his debut coming on January 9 at the Big Baller Brand Challenge Games, a friendly five-game series hosted by Vytautas and designed to feature LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball.
Ball (left) with his father LaVar and brother LaMelo after a Vytautas exhibition game with the London Lionsin 2018.
In his professional debut in the 2017–18 LKL season, Ball failed to score, shooting 0-of-3 from the field in limited playing time as his team fell to Lietkabelis Panevėžys. In his second LKL game, Ball recorded a game-high 20 points and 3 rebounds in a 116–93 loss to Pieno žvaigždės Pasvalys. On January 23, in a 147–142 victory at the Big Baller Brand Challenge Games, he recorded 38 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists against Dzūkija Alytus. LaVar Ball was appointed as assistant coach to Virginijus Šeškus for the game. On February 4, Ball scored 25 points, with six three-pointers, in a loss to Žalgiris Kaunas. A week later, he made his starting lineup debut for Vytautas—and won his first LKL game—recording 13 points in a 97–95 victory over Šiauliai. He scored 32 points shooting 11-of-26 in a 141–133 loss to VEF Rīga Skola on February 25—under his father's coaching—at the Big Baller Brand International Tournament, another friendly competition. In the game, Ball debuted his first signature shoe, the Gelo 3, which was produced by his father's sports apparel company Big Baller Brand. On March 3, 2018, after scoring 18 points in a loss to Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius, the opposing coach, Rimas Kurtinaitis, praised LiAngelo for his great shot and body. On March 25, Ball scored a career-high 28 points, along with six three-pointers, in a loss to Nevėžis Kėdainiai.
On March 27, 2018, Ball's handlers announced his intention to enter the 2018 NBA draft, for which most experts believed that he was a long shot to be selected. Later in the day, at an exhibition game, Ball scored 72 points with 11 rebounds as his team won, 159–115, over a youth squad for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). Shortly after, however, SB Nation criticized the low level of competition and lack of defense in the game, viewing it as an attempt to "get LiAngelo buzz" after his draft entry. On April 2, Ball recorded a game-high 44 points in a 127–110 win over the London Lions in an exhibition game in London. On April 19, Ball injured his ankle in the early stages of a game against Juventus Utena. On April 25, it was announced that both Ball and his brother were leaving Vytautas, with their father expressing resentment towards the team's head coach Virginijus Šeškus. He finished the LKL season averaging 12.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game, shooting .415 from the three-point line.Ball was not selected at the 2018 NBA draft.