LiAngelo Ball, the beleagured middle child of the (in)famous Ball family of Chino Hills, went unselected in the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday.
This is not particularly surprising. Ball was a UCLA recruit, likely on account of the sought-after status of his older (Lonzo) and younger (LaMelo) brothers. He never even got a chance to make a name for himself in the Pac-12, though, as he was suspended over an alleged shoplifting incident while the team was in China in the preseason. Instead of playing for Steve Alford’s Bruins, he joined his father and little brother in Lithuania for a shambolic season of action.
His basketball reputation did not much improve.
He barely got workouts during draft season, visiting the Lakers and Warriors and interviewing with at least the Suns at the NBA Draft Combine. None of that helped his status: a prospect from UT-Arlington and Europeans expected to stay in the Old World for at least two more years were taken in the second round, but not Gelo.
That’s all just a prelude to the Middle Ball’s free agency.
Because he went undrafted, Gelo can now sign with whatever team he chooses. This instantly becomes one of the more fascinating questions in this weird interlude after the draft and before official NBA free agency begins July 1. Will anyone sign LiAngelo Ball to a Summer League contract? Will anyone offer a two-way contract to funnel him to their G League squad? Will a European, Asian, or Caribbean club or league try to pull him and his family’s enthusiastic marketing efforts their way?
Or is his last name mixed with his questionable upside too much?
Nothing is ever boring with this family, and here’s a bet that despite not being selected to enter the NBA, LiAngelo Ball is still going to find a way to be entertaining.
And Big Ballers shouldn’t worry too much about a lack of Ball Boys in their lives: Lonzo is, as of Thursday, still a Los Angeles Laker, and LaMelo is just two years away from his own draft night. Hopefully he has better luck than Gelo.