LaMelo Ball had recently been gathering momentum for the top pick in the 2020 NBA draft as a result of his strong play in Australia’s National Basketball League, but evaluators hoping to take a closer look at Ball will have to delay those plans until the new year.
According to a press release issued by the Illawarra Hawks, Ball’s NBL team, the guard suffered a bruised foot in practice and is expected to miss approximately four weeks. The Hawks’ season doesn’t end until mid-February, so the club will look to get Ball back in its lineup for the home stretch.
Ball has impressed scouts by averaging 17.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 6.8 APG through 12 games as an 18-year-old in one of the world’s most competitive basketball leagues. While he has struggled a little with his shot (.377 FG%, .250 3PT%), Ball has boosted his stock and is a contender for the No. 1 pick in 2020.
According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, several NBA decision-makers had been planning to visit Australia in the coming weeks to get an in-person look at Ball and fellow projected lottery pick R.J. Hampton, who is a member of the New Zealand Breakers. Hampton is dealing with a health issue of his own — Givony hears from a source that the young guard is day to day with a hip flexor injury.
In other Illawarra news, the Hawks announced in a press release that they’ve signed 22-year-old forward Billy Preston. Preston started the 2018/19 season on a two-way contract with the Cavaliers, but was released by Cleveland last December.