LiAngelo Robert Ball (born November 24, 1998) is an American basketball player who last played for the Los Angeles Ballers of the Junior Basketball Association (JBA). Ball has previously played for BC Prienai of the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL).
Ball with Prienai in April 2018
|Born||November 24, 1998|
|Listed height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Listed weight||230 lb (104 kg)|
|High school||Chino Hills (Chino Hills, California)|
|NBA draft||2018 / Undrafted|
|2018||Los Angeles Ballers|
|Career highlights and awards|
A 6-foot-5, 215-pound shooting guard, he had originally signed to play with the UCLA Bruins as a three-star recruit but withdrew from the university after he was suspended for a shoplifting arrest in China in November 2017. Ball competed for Chino Hills High School in Chino Hills, California for four years, gaining national exposure in 2015–16 while playing with his brothers: current New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo and former UCLA commit LaMelo Ball. His father LaVar grew into a media personality starting in 2016 with Lonzo's success at UCLA.
At Chino Hills, Ball led his team in scoring for multiple seasons and averaged a state-high 33.8 points per game as a senior. When he was a junior, he helped his team, which starred both of his brothers, complete an undefeated season and win the state championship. In his final season, he drew attention for high scoring outputs, including a 72-point game and several efforts of 50 or more points. Through his years with Chino Hills, Ball earned All-Area and All-State honors on multiple occasions. He finished his high school career among the top scorers in CIF Southern Section history.
Ball was born to LaVar and Tina Ball in Anaheim, California. At 6 ft 4 in (1.93), LaVar played basketball at Washington State of the NCAA Division I, as well as West Los Angeles College and Cal State Los Angeles. A former football player at high school and Long Beach City College, he later played with the London Monarchs of the World League of American Football (WLAF) on loan from the New York Jets. Tina, who stands 6 ft (1.8 m), is also a former college basketball player out of Cal State Los Angeles.
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.
High school career
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 LiAngelo 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 (MVP) 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 versus 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.
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 versus 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 MVP honors. He had another strong showing on December 26, when he scored 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 the McDonald's All-American Game. On January 20, 2017, Ball scored 60 points to lead Chino Hills to a 136–93 triumph versus 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 versus 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:|
|Overall recruiting rankings: 247Sports: 226, 50 (SG), 22 (CA) ESPN: 41 (SF), 16 (CA)|
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 played his only game with the Bruins in the preseason on November 1, 2017, against NCAA Division II team Cal State Los Angeles, scoring 11 points and shooting 4-of-8 from the field.
Hangzhou shoplifting incident
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, although he added that the university forced him to add the thanks to his speech. 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 learned 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 occurred.
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. Had Ball stayed at UCLA, he would have remained suspended for the rest of the season.
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 BC Prienai of the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL), along with his 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 Prienai and designed to feature LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball.
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 February 4, Ball scored 25 points, with 6 three-pointers, in a loss to Žalgiris Kaunas. A week later, he made his first start for Prienai, recording 13 points in a 97–95 victory over Šiaulių Šiauliai. On March 25, Ball posted a season-high 28 points, with 6 three-pointers, in a loss to Nevėžis Kėdainiai.
On March 27, 2018, Ball announced that he would enter the 2018 NBA draft, even though most analysts believed that he was a long shot to be selected. In an exhibition game later in the day, he erupted for 72 points and 11 rebounds against a youth squad for the Chinese club Guangdong Southern Tigers. Sports website 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 19, Ball injured his ankle and left early versus Juventus Utena. On April 25, it was announced that both Ball and his brother were leaving Prienai, with their father displaying 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 41.5% from the three-point line. Ball was not selected at the 2018 NBA draft.
Los Angeles Ballers (2018)
On July 9, 2018, Ball signed with the Los Angeles Ballers of the Junior Basketball Association, a league founded by his father as an alternative to college basketball. In his season debut on July 14, he tallied 53 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Ball recorded a season-high 54 points, with 21-of-49 shooting, and 16 rebounds in a 130–122 win over the Chicago Ballers. Through four regular season games, he averaged a league-high 51.8 points and 12 rebounds per game. Ball was named to the West roster for the JBA All-Star Game and was named co-MVP of the game after scoring 39 points. Ball recorded 39 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals in a 202–189 win to claim the All-Star Game MVP award. In his first playoff game, he led all scorers with 58 points in a 157–134 win over the Philadelphia Ballers. On August 12, Ball recorded 58 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists in a Finals victory over the Seattle Ballers and was subsequently named Finals MVP. At the end of the season, Ball was among 14 players in the league named to the JBA USA Team, which faced several European teams on an international tour.
|GP||Games played||MPG||Minutes per game||FG%||Field goal percentage|
|3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage||RPG||Rebounds per game|
|APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game||BPG||Blocks per game|
|PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high||Led the league|
|†||Denotes seasons in which Ball won a championship|
|*||Led the league|
|2018†||Los Angeles Ballers||JBA||4||41.2||.428||.208||.680||11.5||5.8||2.0||1.0||51.8*|
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- Martin, Josh (July 12, 2018). "LiAngelo, LaMelo Ball both triple-double in LA's 171-140 JBA win vs Philly". Lonzo Wire. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
- "JBA All-Star Game". JBA League. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
- Nathan, Alec (August 3, 2018). "LiAngelo Ball Named Co-MVP of LaVar's JBA All-Star Game 2018; LaMelo Scores 42". Bleacher Report. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
- "LiAngelo Ball's 58 points lift L.A. over Philadelphia in JBA quarterfinals". Lonzo Wire. August 11, 2018. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
- Rivas, Christian (August 12, 2018). "LiAngelo, LaMelo Ball lead Los Angeles Ballers to first-ever JBA championship". Lonzo Wire. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
- "LiAngelo Ball Player Profile, Vytautas Prienu, News, Rumors, International Stats, Game Logs, Awards - RealGM". basketball.realgm.com. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
- "Live Stats - JBA LEAGUE". JBA LEAGUE. Retrieved 2018-08-13.