LaMelo Ball Leaves Australian Team

Top draft prospect LaMelo Ball has returned stateside after an abridged season with the Illawarra Hawks in Australia, according to a report from Timothy Fernandez of ABC Illawarra (hat tip to NBC Sports).

Ball’s season came to an early end when he suffered a foot injury in December and was subsequently shut down in January. Although he wasn’t going to suit up again for the team, it sounds like the Hawks were caught off guard by the timing of Ball’s departure. According to Fernandez, captain Todd Blanchfield didn’t know about it until he was asked for comment by ABC Illawarra.

“It’s news to me, but [Ball’s camp has] got an agenda they have to take care of,” Blanchfield said. “At the end of the day he’s thinking of the bigger picture and has bigger things in mind. … We were teammates for half the season while he was playing, and we had our ups and downs, but it would have been good to say goodbye.”

Team owner Simon Stratford said he was “really disappointed” that Ball didn’t say goodbye to his teammates or coach, per Fernandez. Still, when the Hawks officially announced Ball’s departure, they wished him the best in his preparations for the draft.

“LaMelo has had a big impact on our club and the league and we thank him for everything he has done for the Hawks and the Illawarra community,” Hawks general manager Mat Campbell said in a statement. “He has a very bright future ahead of him and the Hawks are proud to have played a part in that journey. LaMelo and his team will always be a part of the Hawks family and we wish him the very best ahead of the NBA Draft.”

Ball averaged 17.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 6.8 APG in the 12 games he played prior to his injury, making himself a contender for the No. 1 overall pick in 2020. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony currently has Ball ranked atop his big board, though he notes that the guard’s work ethic and level of focus have been called into question. Ball’s abrupt departure from the Hawks could be another factor for NBA teams to consider as they evaluate his draft stock this spring.

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25 thoughts on “LaMelo Ball Leaves Australian Team

  1. arc89

    Another over rated ball kid. From what I read some teams saw him play and thought he had some talent but not super star talent. That is the real reason he is leaving. Hype up the talent to get a better place in the draft. Just hope the team you cheer for doesn’t waste a 1st round pick on him.

    • Sirsleepit

      So you read he has talent but didn’t read that he has been out due to injury and he wouldn’t make it back before their season ended? Cherry pick stories to fit your narrative I guess

      • Dodgethis

        Nothing cherry picker about it. He played 12 games and once again left a team and league before the end of the season. Also, let’s not pretend he’s playing in a competitive league. Those clowns make the g league look good.

        • El Don

          Man G-League & NCAA are as useless as they come, the level in the NBL is so much better, they are actually men competing, you should educate yourself a bit before displaying all your ignorance dude.

          • hiflew

            Actual men compete in your local YMCA too. That doesn’t mean they are better competition than NCAA D-I. The best players in D-I are far better competition than the best players in NBL. They just are, regardless of age.

            • ColossusOfClout

              The Aussie league is better quality than actual borderline young NBA talent? LMAO. You’re drunk mate, go home!

  2. calihoops1

    I would stay so far away from drafting him. He is not going to be able to guard anyone. He’s incredibly selfish and winning in the NBA means sacrificing for your teammates and playing D. Whoever drafts him will regret it and the circus he comes with.

    • arc89

      He will need a lot of time in the G league to be against bigger and faster players. Talent alone doesn’t make you a NBA player. you must learn how to win and sacrifice for the team.

      • hiflew

        I agree with your assessment. However, you don’t use a top 5 pick on someone needing “a lot of time in the G League.” You use a pick somewhere 13-18 for that. Anyone picking Ball in the top 5 will pay a lot of money for him to learn the game in the G League. Josh Jackson 2.0.

  3. His path to the top spot in the draft was contingent upon him making people forget his last name. Instead, he seems determined to live up to it. I doubt he’ll be in the discussion for the top overall pick much longer, and the draft day issue will be how far he’ll fall. It could be far. Despite recent events and rhetoric, this is still a good draft class, better than good in terms of upside.

    • SheaGoodbye

      Eh, I could still see a bad organization taking him with an early pick, but his range of possible outcomes is undoubtedly large.

  4. Jason Lancaster

    LaMelo is going to be a decent NBA player, but he’ll never really blossom until he’s out from underneath his dad’s umbrella.

    We saw Lonzo take a big step forward when he broke financial ties with Daddy last April. I assume LaMelo will see the same growth.

    We’re all a little better when we leave the nest.

    • Dodgethis

      What step forward? He got shipped out if LA and hadn’t gotten better. Bust.

      • Jason Lancaster

        His game is still incomplete, so I can see why people are down in him. He’s got an excellent handle, he’s a great passer, a great defender considering his age and experience, and he’s a good finisher. His shooting is bad, but he’s shooting better, and that’s a pretty big deal.

        If he puts it all together, he’s a starting NBA point guard. He was drafted too high, but that’s not his fault, is it?

  5. 1fifth2fifthRed5thBlue5th

    He clearly didn’t steal the hearts of the fans, players, coaches, front office from down under.

  6. jump shot

    His mission to achieve 1st round status via a league that they somehow created the allusion that by doing well in it solidifies him as a player, is a success. How gullible so many are. That league is and has been a low-level overseas option, competition-wise, but a great league to play in if you’re Australian or a player attempting to play in a solid, professional league. By professional, I mean well-ran, you get your money on time, games are competitive (for its level – comparative to NCAA D3 level), and the fans enjoy the league. But, its by no means a Russia, Spain, Italy, Greece, etc… in terms of being high-level European basketball.
    Lavar Ball at his best.

  7. x%sure

    His travels and brother’s wealth may change his goals– he may not want to drafted high to a losing team that will rely on him immediately. Of course what Ja Morant is doing is more respectable.

    Anyway kids have a way of disappearing!

  8. Hanecia1

    He will be awesome in the NBA. Just like Lonzo, he starts young and grow in the league. Some of you guys take this stuff so personal it’s crazy. You can believe Lonzo sucks, but you see the truth. When he isnt playing the Pelicans seldom win. It’s because he is a true point guard who runs that offense. Disagree or agree, the Ball boys will always be playing basketball. Stop hating on those guys, makes you look like you are jealous. Wait and see then decide about Melo. Itll save you a lil pie in your face.

      • SumTingWong

        he’s obnoxious because he tells the truth that everyone else is afraid to say. I doubt you would call him obnoxious to his face

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