Ball during a Hornets game.
|No. 2 – Charlotte Hornets|
|Date of birth:||August 22, 2001|
|Place of birth:||Anaheim, California|
|Listed height:||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
|Listed weight:||180 lbs (82 kg)|
|National Basketball Association debut|
|Debut: 2020 for the Charlotte Hornets|
|High school:||Chino Hills (Chino Hills, California)|
SPIRE Academy (Geneva, Ohio)
|NBA Draft:||2020 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3rd|
|Playing career:||2019-present (2 years)|
|Career highlights and awards|
LaMelo LaFrance Ball (born August 22, 2001) is an American professional basketball player for the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was selected by the Hornets with the third overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft. He also played for the Illawarra Hawks for one season in the National Basketball League (NBL), winning Rookie of the Year with both teams.
On December 11, 2017, Ball signed with Prienai of the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL) with his brother, LiAngelo. Ball reportedly became the youngest American to ever sign a professional basketball contract. The brothers' move to Lithuania was heavily reported by American sports media. Prienai withdrew from the Baltic Basketball League upon their arrival and took part in various exhibition games sponsored by Big Baller Brand. On January 13, 2018, Ball made his professional debut, going scoreless in five minutes against Lietkabelis. On February 4, he scored a season-high 19 points, with four three-pointers and six assists, in a loss to Žalgiris. In an exhibition game toward the end of the month, he suffered a leg injury that sidelined him for a month. On April 25, Ball left Prienai with his family, with his father criticizing the team's head coach Virginijus Šeškus, in part because Ball did not receive enough playing time. He finished the LKL season averaging 6.5 points and 2.4 assists, shooting 26.8 percent from the field, in 12.8 minutes per game.
Los Angeles Ballers (2018)
On May 4, 2018, Ball signed with the Los Angeles Ballers of the Junior Basketball Association (JBA), a new league created by his father as an alternative to college basketball, and was touted by the league as its "marquee player." In his debut on June 21, he posted a triple-double of 40 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals, shooting 15-of-40 from the field, in a 134–124 win over the New York Ballers. Over eight regular season games, Ball averaged a triple-double with 39.6 points, 14.6 rebounds and 11.5 assists per game, while being named to the All-Star Game. In the playoff semifinals versus the New York Ballers, he scored a season-high 55 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists. He led Los Angeles to a JBA championship over the Seattle Ballers. After the season, Ball was named to the league's select team, called JBA USA, which would face several European teams on an international tour. On October 31, in an exhibition game versus Dzūkija on the tour, he was ejected after slapping an opposing player in the face during a scuffle. On November 5, he left the JBA tour to return to high school in the United States for his senior season.
Illawarra Hawks (2019–2020)
On June 17, 2019, Ball signed a two-year contract, including NBA out clauses, with the Illawarra Hawks of the Australian-based National Basketball League (NBL). He joined the Hawks through the NBL Next Stars program, which aims to develop NBA draft prospects. In August 2019, after playing for No Shnacks at the Drew League, Ball was named Leader of the New School, an award honoring the league's top rookie. For the NBL season, he moved to Australia with his former SPIRE Institute coach Jermaine Jackson, who became his manager and helped him acclimate. In late September, he had success at the NBL Blitz, a pre-season tournament. He recorded 19 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists in a preseason win over the Perth Wildcats.
On October 6, in his first regular season game, Ball tallied 12 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists on 6-of-17 shooting in a loss to the Brisbane Bullets. He assumed a more important role following a season-ending injury to star point guard Aaron Brooks on October 27. Ball recorded a season-high 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists on November 25, in an overtime victory over the Cairns Taipans, to become the youngest NBL player to record a triple-double. In his next game, Ball posted another triple-double with 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, but was held to 10-of-28 shooting in a loss to the New Zealand Breakers. He became the fourth player in league history, and the first since the NBL switched to 40-minute games in 2009, to record consecutive triple doubles.
On December 8, before he played another game, it was announced that he would miss about four weeks of action after bruising his foot in practice. On January 16, 2020, while still sidelined, Ball decided to sit out for the remainder of the season. He parted ways with the Hawks on January 28 to return to the United States and prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft. Through 12 NBL games, Ball averaged 17 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game, shooting 37.7 percent from the field. At the end of the season, he was named NBL Rookie of the Year over Kouat Noi by five votes (49–44).
Charlotte Hornets (2020–present)
Leading up to the 2020 NBA Draft, Ball was projected by many as the 1st pick in the 2020 NBA draft and to be selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves. In the 2020 NBA Draft, which was held on November 18, 2020, Ball was selected with the third overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets. He and his brother Lonzo, who was chosen No. 2 overall in the 2017 Draft, became the first set of brothers to both be drafted in the top 3 of the NBA draft. After an up-and-down preseason, he began the regular season coming off the bench. Ball made his debut on December 23, 2020, going scoreless along with one rebound, three assists, and two steals in 16 minutes in a 121–114 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On January 8, 2021, against the New Orleans Pelicans, Ball and Lonzo played in their first regulation game against each other at any level. Ball helped rally the Hornets from an 18-point deficit to a 118–110 win. He narrowly missed a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. On January 9, at the age of 19 years old and 140 days, he became the youngest player in NBA history with a triple-double, breaking the record set by Markelle Fultz by 177 days. Ball had 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in a 113–105 win against the Atlanta Hawks. On January 30, Ball recorded a then career-high 27 points, along with five rebounds, nine assists, and four steals in a 126–114 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. For his performance in December and January, Ball was awarded with Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month after averaging 12.2 points, 6.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.4 steals over his first 21 games in the NBA. On February 1, Ball made the first start of his career in a 129–121 victory over the Miami Heat. He finished the game with 14 points, five rebounds, and seven assists. On February 5, Ball recorded a career-high 34 points, along with eight assists, four rebounds, two steals, and one block in a 138–121 loss to the Utah Jazz. He also became the youngest player in franchise history to record a 30-point game. He was named Rookie of the Month again for February after averaging 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in 13 games. On March 21, Ball suffered a fractured bone in his right wrist in a loss against the Los Angeles Clippers and was listed as out indefinitely. On April 19, Ball was cleared to resume basketball activities. On May 1, Ball made his return from injury, putting up 11 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists, in a 107–94 win against the Detroit Pistons. On June 16th, 2021, Ball was named the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year and later on was selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.