With less than 24 hours away from a career-defining moment, LaMelo Ball bottled his excitement for the D-Day. The brevity of his answers to any and all questions didn’t give away anything until he was asked about why he should be the #1 pick. “I was born to be #1 pick,” asserted Ball. “Being the #1 pick definitely holds a lot to me.”
The youngest of the Ball brothers has been a journeyman even before getting drafted into the NBA. Having played professionally in the Australian NBL, Lithuania, competing at the SPIRE Institute in Ohio after leaving Chino Hills (Calif.) High School as a junior, Ball feels all the stops helped him become a better player. “I feel like when you go overseas, it’s a whole new different style of play; something that you can just add to the arsenal,” Ball said. “So, I feel like it helped me in that aspect.”
Ask him if it was a gamble to not have college experience and play professionally, Ball shrugs it off. “You could say it was a gamble, but for me, I already figured out what was gonna happen, me going there, what I was getting myself into,” said Ball.
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In Detroit since March for Draft training, Ball conducted workouts with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons. The Timberwolves, Warriors and Hornets own the top three picks.
But his father LaVar Ball has other ideas as he wants LaMelo to play for the New York Knicks or Pistons. “He probably just likes the big market,” the 6ft 7in player said. “He raised me, taught me the game pretty much; everything I knew when I was little. So, I appreciate all that. It’s my pops, so he’s always gonna be involved.”
Ball’s brother Lonzo is a guard with the New Orleans Pelicans and was also the second pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. So, Ball knows the weight of expectations on his shoulder but isn’t too worried about it. “I am ok. No pressure, it is just basketball. I am cool,” said Ball.
All this might change a little bit though minutes after his name is announced. But Ball is ready to play the role that comes with being one of the most spoken about prospect. “Pretty much whenever I get there, and [whatever] the coach asks me to do, I’m gonna do,” he said of his role with the team that drafts him.
For now, his typical day is about waking up, going to work out and shoot, get some breakfast, come back and stretch, go to the gym at around 6 PM, come back, eat while watching a movie and repeat it the next day. This routine may never be the same again after the 2020 NBA Draft.