With older brother Lonzo flourishing on the Lakers to begin his NBA career, LiAngelo Ball hopes to be the next member of the controversial Ball clan to make the pros in the USA. LiAngelo was dragged to Lithuania this season with his younger brother LaMelo by their loudmouthed, (intentionally) polarizing father Lavar after he was indefinitely suspended by the UCLA basketball team due to a highly publicized international incident involving the shoplifting of sunglasses with two teammates in China.
After a dozen or so games in the eastern European nation, LiAngelo has turned his sites to the NBA, where he hopes to make a roster this fall.
Ahead, we track his often chaotic journey to this point.
High School: Chino Hills
Liangelo attended Chino Hills High School in Southern California with his brothers Lonzo and LaMelo. During his junior and senior seasons, he averaged a staggering 30.3 points per game. In 2016, the Ball brothers began receiving national recognition thanks to Lonzo’s lofty perch as a top recruit and the success of Chino Hills as a group. Of course, the publicity only exploded from there, as, during Lonzo’s one season at UCLA, Lavar began making regular headlines thanks to his bombastic talk and braggadocio.
While Lonzo was finding success at UCLA, LiAngelo shined at Chino Hills for his senior year, exploding for 72 points in one game and 65 in another. He would end the season garnering various California state awards such as All-Area player of the year from the San Bernadino Sun newspaper. He would enter UCLA in 2017 as a three-star recruit, with perhaps unfair hype to live up to the standard set by Lonzo and the promises of his father.
Not that long into the season at UCLA, LiAngelo and two teammates named Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were arrested during a team trip in China for shoplifting sunglasses. In typical Ball style, the arrests caused an international incident only relinquishing when the United States government asked for the players’ release from Chinese prison as a favor. When LiAngelo, Riley, and Hill returned to California they were suspended indefinitely.
In response, Lavar yanked LiAngelo off the team and out of UCLA. As Lonzo adjusted to life in the NBA, the rest of the Ball family headed off for the pastures of Lithuania.
LiAngelo tried to make the most of his exile to Lithuania. While playing for Vytautas Prienu, he scored 12.7 points per game on 43 percent shooting. Many saw LiAngelo and LaMelo’s inclusion on the team as a publicity stunt on the part of Lavar, who regularly appeared on Lithuanian TV and at Lithuanian award shows.
Vytautas Prienu were bottom feeders with LiAngelo and LaMelo taking part, finishing the season with a dismal 8-28 record. It is likely that LiAngelo is happy to be back in the United States auditioning for the NBA after a surreal experience overseas.
Following a 72-point performance in Lithuania, LiAngelo declared for the 2018 NBA Draft. LiAngelo has stated that “The Lakers are my priority, for sure, I want to play with my brother. Ever since I played with ‘Zo, we went undefeated. When we get older, we will get stronger, faster and a better feel for the game. I’m willing to play for other teams, but my priority is to play with my brother.”
Whether or not his wish will be fulfilled remains to be seen.
There was some speculation that LiAngelo was working out for the Lakers when a video surfaced online of the middle Ball boy inside of the Lakers team facility. Of course, he could have just been tagging along with ‘Zo.
— Overtime (@overtime) May 29, 2018
The 2018 NBA Draft takes place June 21 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.