Flyin’ Game 15: “Ball in the Family” a hit with sold-out crowd

It’s a challenge to put an accurate single spin on LaVar Ball. He’s equal parts social media entrepreneur, dutiful husband, doting father and boastful former athlete of the most wincing kind.

And his 330,000 Twitter followers and 1 million Facebook reality show followers can’t get enough.

“From me meeting my wife, I knew I was going to raise three killers,” the “Ball in the Family” patriarch said during Monday’s final games of the 17th annual Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop. “You might as well get your last hoorah with the last one right now.”

»» FLYIN’ GAME 14: Thurgood Marshall vs. Pace Academy (Ga.)

»» FLYIN’ SCHEDULE: All games at Trent Arena

That would be LaMelo Ball. A capacity and SRO crowd at Trent Arena jammed surrounding streets with back-up traffic to see the last of the three Ball brothers, all of whom seem destined for the NBA. Oldest brother Lonzo Ball is the Lakers’ starting point guard. Middle brother LiAngelo has forfeited his collegiate eligibility and is aiming for another shot at the NBA’s G-League.

And then there’s LaMelo. The youngest and 6-foot-6 guard currently draws capacity crowds as a play-making guard for Spire Academy, out of Geneva Ohio.

»» FACEBOOK: For more sports you should like Marc Pendleton

»» TWITTER: You should like @MarcPendleton

Spire laid the equivalent of a Flyin’ egg, falling 94-59 to Prolific Prep (Calif.) in Game 2 on Monday, but no one seemed to mind. Many were there for the Ball show, and they delivered. LaMelo scored 20 to go with seven rebounds and four assists. He should have shot more.

The Trent front area was packed with anxious onlookers anticipating Spire’s – and LaVar’s – arrival. It was the same afterward, when Spire players ducked out the back end of the arena. That made for a memorable Flyin’ moment, and there have been many in the 17-year history of the midseason hoopfest.

»» FLYIN’ GAME 13: Wayne vs. Garfield Heights

»» FLYIN’ GAME 12: Bella Vista Prep vs. ISA at Andrews Orborne

LaMelo wouldn’t speak, having girded himself with hoodie, headphones and a tight-lipped gaze. Thirty-five point beatdowns will do that to even the best of prospects.

Besides, he had already wooed the star-struck. He arrived at the arena with his family and separate from the team, which was hustled in through a side entrance. The Balls made a grand entrance in the main cooridor, huddled and posed with fans, and signed autographs.

LaMelo finally appeared on court with five minutes left in the pregame warmup, long after his Spire teammates.

LaVar lives for those moments.

“It’s very fun in the fact we get all this atmosphere and the folks lovin’ what we do,” LaVar said while his reality show cameras rolled. “Any time I can spend time with my family, I’m good.”

»» FLYIN’ GAME 11: Lebanon vs. Cin. Winton Woods

»» FLYIN’ GAME 10: Minster vs. Convoy Crestview

LaVar envisions his sons all playing together on the same NBA team. That’s what they did at Chino Hills High School in California. Between all his eyebrow-raising tweets, rants and boasts, that’s what he envisions again.

“They all are going to play together in the NBA,” he assured between selfie shots from admiring fans. “And when they do, it’s going to be over with. I don’t know. We’re going to need a team. I might get this Big Baller Brand going so big, I might get my own team.”

Junior Nimari Burnett had six 3-pointers and led Prolific with 34 points.

»» FLYIN’ GAME 9: CJ vs. Akron Buchtel

»» FLYIN’ GAME 8: Stivers vs. Cin. Taft

»» FLYIN’ GAME 7: Springfield vs. Prolific Prep

»» FLYIN’ GAME 6: Huntington Prep vs. Bella Vista

»» FLYIN’ GAME 5: Centerville vs. Oak Ridge (Fla.)

»» FLYIN’ GAME 4: Crestwood Prep (Ont.) vs. Cin. Dohn Prep

»» FLYIN’ GAME 3: Xenia vs. First Love Christian (Pa.)

»» FLYIN’: Girls Sat. opener canceled

»» FLYIN’ PHOTOS: Friday’s Day 1

»» FLYIN’ GAME 2: IMG Academy (Fla.) vs. Huntington Prep (W.Va.)

»» FLYIN’ GAME 1: Fairmont vs. Crestwood Prep (Ont.)

»» FLYIN’: Here comes the “traveling circus”

»» RELATED: Butler undone by early Trotwood blitz

»» PHOTOS: Butler at Trotwood-Madison boys basketball

»» RELATED: “Twin Towers” a good fit at Tri-Village

»» PHOTOS: Covington at Tri-Village girls basketball

»» RELATED: “It’s our time” for Carroll girls basketball

»» PHOTOS: Carroll at Alter girls basketball

About the Author