He Was Number One: LaMelo Ball and the 2020 NBA Draft

lamelo-ball-nba-draft-dispatch     The Ball family has been a fixture in the sporting world for three years. LaVar Ball has put all of his sons; Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo in a position to be extremely successful in the family business, basketball. Lonzo was the NBA’s number two overall pick in 2017 by the Los Angeles Lakers after his lone season at UCLA. Two years later, he would be included in a trade to New Orleans for superstar forward Anthony Davis. Lonzo was also the star of his own brand Big Baller Brand (BBB). LiAngelo took over Lonzos’ apartment the following year at UCLA only to be kicked off the team before the start of the season for stealing on a team trip in China. His opportunities have been slim to none after playing for his fathers’ league, the Junior Basketball Association (JBA) as well as playing overseas with younger brother LaMelo for Prienai of the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL) and Baltic Basketball League (BBL).

Then there’s LaMelo. As the youngest of the trio of Ball brother’s, Melo has long been considered to have the most potential in their family business. From a young age, LaMelo played with his brothers on Big Ballers VXT of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). Coached by LaVar, Melo would put on a show for fans dazzling them with long range three point shots and flashy passes. Melo’s debut in high school at  Chino Hills High School in Chino Hills, California in 2015, he not only started but put up 27 points including five three pointers in a win. LaMelo finished his freshman campaign averaging 16.4 points and 3.8 assists per game to go along with MaxPreps National Co-Freshman of the Year, MaxPreps Freshman All-American First Team, a 35-0 record and the mythical national championship.

  Image result for ball brothers aauPhoto courtesy of ESPN.com

Fast-Forward to 2019. After a 92 point game in his sophomore year, a clash with 2019 NBA number one overall pick Zion Williamson in an AAU game, a trip overseas to play professionally in Europe, returning to the United States for his senior year to play at SPIRE Institute in Geneva, OH you would think LaMelo would be a top prospect for NBA teams. These teams would be looking not only for a boost to their rosters but a boost to their ticket and jersey sales. This was not the case. For whatever reason, in the initial 2020 NBA Mock Draft, Ball was considered to be drafted in the late first round pick to a boarderline lottery pick.

After all of the accolades, tremendous talent as well as the extra media attention, it was a surprise that LaMelo would be projected so low. This is also after a then 13-year-old Ball was compared by  USA Today High School Sports as having the ability to “dominate” older competition as reminiscent of LeBron James. Granted the kid grew up into a young man and is a bonafide playmaker in the same respect as Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard. Ball always passed the eye test with his playmaking ability, what was in question was his maturity and shot selection.

Image result for lamelo ballPhoto courtesy of USA.com

All that changed when the 18-year-old took the court earlier this week for Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League (NBL), a league based in Australia. Ball impressed most of the 27 NBA scouts at the NBL Blitz — the Australian and New Zealand basketball league’s preseason tournament. LaMelo put up 19 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists against the league’s defending champion while primarily matching up with reigning defensive player of the year Damian Martin. Ball even garnered a comparison to reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, Luka Dončić. LaMelo is now considered the number three overall pick with room to pass older brother Lonzo for the highest Ball brother drafted in the NBA.

With this past weeks high praise of LaMelo, I can’t help but wonder where the scouts and media had him wrong. This was nothing that people who have followed the teenagers rise weren’t used to. My view on Melo was that he was worthy of a top three projection after his stellar Sophomore season at Chino Hills. In fact, Ball was rated the top player in his class that year. I understand that a scouts job is to objectively look at a prospect and find the needs of the team and organization but for them to just now rave over a prospect that has always preformed at a level higher than someone his age usually puts forth is wild in any regard.

I look forward to seeing the growth of LaMelo throughout his one year rental in Australia. If he continues to impress the head scouts, General Managers and Governors of the NBA, there is no reason why LaMelo Ball’s name shouldn’t be called first on June 25th in Brooklyn, NY. The sky’s the limit for LaMelo as long as he keeps his head down and continues to sharpen his game. LaVar’s master plan to have all of his sons play together for the Lakers may have failed, for now.

 

Re-falling in Love With Your Craft (One Minute Read)

We have all experienced a point in our field of work where we were so frustrated and fed up that we thought it would be best if we just quit. At the beginning of our careers, we usually begin as highly motivated, dedicated and enthusiastic workers trying to hown in on our craft and skill set. Through time and redundant circumstances, we grow complacent and tired of the same routine as well as seeing the same people asking the same stupid questions. What goes wrong? We being to stop challenging ourselves and settling for what is just good enough.

Our focuses shift from the excitement of something new and exciting to focusing on the million task that our thrown our way.   To be completely honest, our focus is usually on the wrong substance and subject matter. We should never take our focus off of God. Without God, our careers wouldn’t be possible. There would be no craft or talent to be shared with those who are around us daily. To fall back in love with out careers and talents, we must go and pray boldly to God and ask for guidance and understanding of what God has in store for us.

“Never allow life to make you forget why you started in the first place.” – Inky Johnson
 

The God Inside Us (1-Minute Read)

You know that tingly feeling that you get whenever you do a good deed or unconsciously help a person in need? That same feeling is met when you are in your place of worship, whether that be a church, mosque, temple, home and work. The common factor in all of that is your laser focus on a task when you’re assisting or lending support. The exact focus is put onto God when you are giving God praise.

That feeling is the God inside us. We can bring that God out by focusing in on the task that we are wrapped up in. When we execute the task and have done it to near perfection, that is when the God in us shines. We have all been blessed with tremendous gifts and talents that are begging to break free and fly. When we access and harness that tingly feeling, the moon is not the limit.

Beware of the demons that will come though when you are on your path to unlocking the God inside of you. These demons come in the form of anger and lust towards others. Remember, demons mission from Lucifer is to seek and destroy. When you think of anytime of you being angry or lustful, it is a destructive action. Make your mind a fortress by meditating and studying your choice of religion. These two actions train your mind to maintain discipline as well as help you to maintain your focus.

This is no easy road but to give you a head start remember, God is inside us.

New Challenges, New Adventures

Taking time for yourself allows you to put certain aspects of your life into perspective. For me, that has meant enjoying time in nature, reading an exhilarating novel or simply taking time out of my day to focus my mind on what I need to improve upon in my life through prayer and meditation. As new challenges arrive in our lives we have a choice. We can can view it as a another mark off of the checklist or we can choose to view the challenge as a new adventure in our life. Life is all about the choices you make or fail to make. This slight change in our mindset can be what makes for a good or bad day. Changing your mindset can change the world you live in.

The Rise of the Super Athlete (2 – Minute Read)

There was a certain mold in which professional sports teams would follow. The mold was to draft a rookie and have him sit and learn behind the veterans getting his ears wet along the way. The process to getting that rookie to become a reliable player often was a three to four year process. There were a few exceptions to giving the young guns the keys to the franchise, i.e. Sidney Crosby, LeBron James, Peyton Manning and Bryce Harper. Recently though, we’ve seen a shift in young players hitting the ground running and making their presence felt early in their career. Carson Wentz, Connor McDavid, Ben Simmons and Kris Bryant, just to name a few, have quickly established themselves and are quickly taking over their respective sports.

Science is creating super-athletes and making sports unrecognizable to previous generations. It’s no secret that athletes are faster and stronger. There is an evolution brewing in the sports world. A greater understanding of genetics and biomechanics has played a huge part in developing and elevating the athletes that we love to watch. As scientist and athletic trainers develop better technology, which include the evolution of virtual and augmented reality, vital monitors and other devices, athletes continue to  advance their talents and become capable of things that were unattainable decades ago. Records in the four major sports that have been held for many generations are now falling year after year. Rookies and second year players are being thrown into the MVP conversations as legitimate winners. It is now the expectation for a young player to come in, put up crazy numbers and lead their teams to winning seasons, if they fail to do so, they are instantly labeled a bust.

The key to this evolution of sports is also due in part to the age at which the athletes are picking up a main sport and primarily training in the movements and muscle memory associated with that sport. Although most professional athletes grew up playing multiple sports, their training was heavily geared towards a specific workout. Athletes of the younger generation are also offered to play more games in the years leading up to their professional debuts. Travel teams have, in a sense, replaced the grade and high school teams in the importance of participation due to the immense exposure it brings. The next evolution that happened in sports was the usage of the internet, specifically social media.

The era of social media ushered in a new medium for athletes to showcase their talents and skill sets to the world. With so much exposure around the young athletes of today, there is an easier path for coaches to see what athletes are worth their time for recruitment as well as what athletes can be viewed as competition. Youtube channels such as BallisLife, JustBombProductions and more channels produce amazing content allowing viewers to marvel at the talents of amature athletes around the nation.

The youth may not see the obvious link between sports and science, but it is all around them in sports. For these young future stars, the sky is no longer the limit. When you are watching that next touchdown by Zeke or watching Donovan Mitchell drill another three, know that they are the next generation in sports evolution. Onward and upward, sports continue to entertain us but there is something different about these new crop of stars.

Powering Though the Objective

Staying motivated is easy right? You set a goal, make a plan to achieve the goal and everything goes according to plan. This is often never the case in a life that holds many variables and obstacles. When we are met with life’s challenges we seem to forget why we set the goal in the first place and slowly begin to lose our motivation.

How do we power through to achieve our objectives? We first must never lose our why, the reason for beginning in the place. Always keep your why closely vested and only share your why with a select trusted few. Secondly, when things seem to be at its worst, it means that the challenge is almost complete. When obstacles begin to pop up, it is to test your will, resiliency and strength and , it’s usually towards the end you’re tested.

Lastly, allow yourself to enjoy the process. When you’re having fun, the challenges of life become easier. Embracing the suck for a small moment in time is a small price to pay. There is pain in glory. Power through whatever objective is ahead of you. That feeling of satisfaction is pure ecstasy. The accomplishment and praise that accompanies you along the journey will be well worth it, I promise.

Truth Seekers (1-Minute Read)

There is a fine line that is hardly crossed. A friendly boundary that we tip-toe and we straddle. but hardly ever make a move towards. This fine line is truth. It is often easy to dish out but if we ever get a taste of our own medicine it is more times than not a disgusting taste that we would rather throw up then swallow whole. Not all  truth should be told though. There is always a timing that comes about when the truth should be revealed. Now, I can not tell you when and where truth should be revealed but what I can tell you is that the timing must be in good order to be accepted.

“The truth shall set you free.” When you analyze this phrase, what does it mean to you. That you should be liberated after receiving or delivering the truth? Or does it hold more power than that? When we seek to be free from the truth, it can indeed be a liberating feeling, but sometimes it sets you free into another spiral filled with lies and deceitfulness. So a warning, if you are to spread the truth and “keep it real” make sure that it is in order with the world around you.

The truth does hold power and weight, it is always clever to judge when the timing is best to reveal what is in some people’s best nature. Sometimes though, we have to allow truth to work in its mysterious ways. This means sitting back and letting the truth find its way to that friend, family member or colleague. This is often a difficult task because we as humans are right now beings. Everything that we want and need must be in the present moment. It is not always our duty to reveal what will always find the light.

 

 

Trust

How much trust do you put in yourself to get the job done? Not just finished but if it was a competition would there be no doubt about it that you had won. Now see we indulge in clever entertainment which keeps our minds focused on the fun when we should concentrate on finding ourself akin to finding how x is equal to the sum. Now it’s easy to be a bum or play the tough guy role and let off ya gun and consequently you could be as soft as Texas Road House bread that you would have at lunch but that begging question still looms. Do you trust yourself to get the  job done?

Change Happens Right Inside of You (1-minute read)

We are one mind. We are one consciousness. When we think, do and say together amazing events take place. Close your eyes. Now imagine you’re back at your favorite game or concert. Feel the energy as 50-90,000 fans roar and scream as a goal or touchdown was scored. Feel the togetherness as 20,000 plus sing a song on one accord. It is a beautiful feeling isn’t it. 

Now imagine that same energy you felt and magnify it times 50, 100 or 1,000 when we all stand for a human cause. I know for myself, I dedicate a ton of my energy to seeking knowledge to forward my life’s journey. The constant need for entertainment has always been deeply rooted in the fabric of human nature. Many ancient cultures gathered for games to not only decide fates but to entertain the public away from their troubles and trials.

How this energy gets through to the masses is by change inside in oneself. You effect the world that is around and if you are busy trying to control another’s world, then your energy can never be fully directed from you to the world. The saying “stay in your own lane” is a powerful statement that holds wisdom that we seldom follow. To fulfill what is already ours, we must stand for a cause as one. We must also change ourselves to better the world that is around us. Use your energy positively,don’t let it go to waste.