LaMelo Ball had a lot to prove after returning overseas to join the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League. There were some questions as to whether LaMelo was an elite prospect, and he showed no doubt during his time against more mature, bigger players.
The youngest Ball brother continued to improve throughout his shortened season before suffering an injury.
During his time with Illawarra, Ball averaged 17 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.7 steals in 31 minutes per game this season.
As a result of his strong efforts with Illawarra, it was announced that Ball has been named the NBL Rookie of the Year. Ball finished with 49 votes, Kouat Noi was second with 44 and fellow rising star RJ Hampton was third with 23 votes.
Ball’s honor was announced at the National Basketball League Awards over the weekend.
LaMelo has been so impressive that one NBL executive believes there is no way the youngest Ball brother will be passed up with the top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
“I don’t see any way where LaMelo doesn’t go No. 1. He sees the floor better than anyone, and his passing and shooting is like nothing I’ve seen before,” the NBL executive told Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek.
His performance has been so impressive that Ball now finds himself as the top-rated prospect on the DraftExpress 2020 NBA Draft Board. Ball was initially slated as an early second-round pick but has since seen a steady rise up the rankings.