LiAn­gelo Ball at cen­ter of UCLA me­dia day

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS - By Jill Painter Lopez

There’s a new Ball on the court at UCLA.

Cam­eras and cell­phones cap­tured the mo­ment Wednesday as LiAn­gelo Ball walked to­ward the cen­ter of the court at Pauley Pav­il­ion.

The younger brother of Lak­ers guard Lonzo Ball was mak­ing a de­but of sorts at UCLA me­dia day. The fresh­man was not made avail­able to the me­dia but he was there for pic­tures and prac­tice.

Fresh­man Chris Smith no­ticed the hoopla as he walked along­side his team­mate and said, with a hand over his eyes: “There’s a Ball brother here?” and jok­ingly looked around.

Ball is sure to be un­der a mi­cro­scope and face ex­pec­ta­tions un­like those faced by most col­lege bas­ket­ball play­ers.

“It’s hard. Ob­vi­ously, Lonzo sets a very high bar,” UCLA coach Steve Al­ford said. “I will say know­ing the fam­ily like I know, they’re all made that way. They’re all made in a cham­pi­onship pedi­gree. Gelo (pro­nounced Jello) is not going to be any dif­fer­ent than that. He’ll fig­ure out his role as he gets into this thing. I know he’ll fight and com­pete and ex­tend his role as much as he pos­si­bly can be­cause he’s got that cham­pi­onship DNA that I think all of them have.”

The Ball fam­ily was thrust into a me­dia spot­light thanks to the brothers’ out­spo­ken father, Lavar. Lonzo Ball played just one year at UCLA, where the Bru­ins fin­ished 31-5 and lost to Ken­tucky in the Sweet Six­teen. LiAn­gelo fol­lows this sea­son. Lavar Ball has pulled his youngest son, LaMelo, out of high school and has said he’s home-school­ing him.

Ball is one of seven fresh­men join­ing the Bru­ins but clearly is the most her­alded be­cause of the name on the back of his jer­sey.

“I think he has a pretty good head on (his shoul­ders),” ju­nior Aaron Holiday said. “Ob­vi­ously, com­ing in be­ing one of the Ball brothers and his dad, there’s a lot going on with him so he’s han­dled him­self pretty well, and I think he’s good with that.”

He’s proven to be a re­li­able shooter in his young ca­reer and once had 72 points in a high school bas­ket­ball game.

“He can shoot it, and we’re going to need it,” Al­ford said. “He’s lost weight. He’s in much bet­ter shape. I like the strength he adds. He gives us a dif­fer­ent look when you’ve got maybe speed and ath­leti­cism in dif­fer­ent ar­eas of our back­court. Gelo brings a whole dif­fer­ent look of some­one who is 230-235 pounds. You don’t see a lot of guards with that kind of body, so we can post him. He can ex­tend the floor to the NBA 3 with ease. He’s like a lot of fresh­men right now. As he learns de­fen­sively what needs to take place, he’s going to be a very valu­able piece.”

LiAn­gelo Ball is listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, mea­sure­ments that were up­dated in July.

His new team­mates have no­ticed his shoot­ing touch, and in a few weeks, they’ll take the new Ball show on the road when UCLA takes a trip to China.

“He’s been re­ally well and shoots the ball ex­tremely well,” se­nior cen­ter Thomas Welsh said. “That’s one thing if you give him space in the cor­ner or wher­ever it is, he can knock the 3 down. I’m ex­cited to see what he has to bring. All the fresh­men have their own fla­vor and style in the game. See­ing how they all work into the new sys­tem will be in­ter­est­ing.”

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