»» 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.
LaMelo Ball led Spire with 20 points. Prolific Prep defeated Spire Academy 94-59 in Flyin’ to the Hoop at Trent Arena on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
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.
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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.
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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.
LaMelo Ball (1) passes to teammate Isaiah Jackson. Prolific Prep defeated Spire Academy 94-59 in Flyin’ to the Hoop at Trent Arena on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
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.”
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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.
Spire’s Isaiah Jackson goes in for a slam. Prolific Prep defeated Spire Academy 94-59 in Flyin’ to the Hoop at Trent Arena on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
“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.
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