Just a few weeks ago, Lonzo Ball was a name only known to basketball recruiting die-hards. The 6’6, 190-pound guard from Chino, Calif. was something of a sensation at the high school level, putting up video game-like numbers alongside his brothers in a high-octane prep system. Ball was seen as at least one step below the uber-elite in the Class of 2016 and his decision to stay close to home at UCLA instead of jumping to Kentucky, Duke, or another more nationally dissected program likely helped to deepen that belief.
As of early December, though, Ball and the 9-0 Bruins are easily the biggest story of the early college basketball season, and a dominant road victory against many of his contemporaries at Kentucky over the weekend did nothing to dissuade that. Through those nine contests, Ball is averaging 14.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and a nation-leading 9.3 assists per game, and he has been incredibly efficient in converting 55.4 percent of his field goals and 43.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the three-point arc.
Ball’s assist numbers speak for themselves, but dishing out that kind of aid for his teammates while standing at 6-foot-6 is is doubly impressive. While his jumper isn’t the prettiest in the country by any means, they are falling right now.
As an NBA Draft prospect, there are some question marks between that jump shot and some raw tendencies, but he profiles as a potentially devastating defender at the NBA level, and big guards with versatility and vision are certainly in vogue right now. It is (far) too early to pencil Lonzo Ball in alongside Markelle Fultz as a certain “1-A” when looking ahead to June, but the early returns are wildly encouraging. It doesn’t hurt that Ball is helping to make UCLA a trendy program for folks that often don’t take a long look at college basketball until March.