LaMelo Ball’s time playing in the NBL has come to an end.
On Thursday evening, Ball’s manager and trainer, Jermaine Jackson, confirmed to foxsports.com.au that the point guard won’t play any more games for the Illawarra Hawks; the projected top-3 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft shutting it down for the remainder of the season.
Ball had been out since December 8 with a bone bruise in his foot, and Jackson said that the conclusion from Ball’s most recent visit to the doctor was that he’s “totally healthy,” but would have to train for a further six weeks until he’s ready to play in games.
“Yeah he’s done,” Jackson said via text, when asked if Ball was out for the remainder of the season.
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Ball missed six weeks with the foot injury, and six more weeks would mean he’d return to full health after the NBL regular season ends. The Hawks are currently 5-17, and won’t qualify for postseason action.
As a headliner for the NBL’s Next Stars program, Ball shone throughout the 2019-20 season, showing off his versatile game and improving his draft stock immensely.
Through 12 games, Ball averaged 17 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game, while shooting 37.7 percent from the field and 25 percent from beyond the arc. NBA scouts are intrigued by the California-native point guard skillset for his 6’7 frame, yet still have questions about his suspect jump-shot, which he struggled with over the season.
Ball’s time in the NBL was highlighted by back-to-back triple-doubles – against the Cairns Taipans and New Zealand Breakers, respectively – with his foot injury occurring in practice just a week later.
“It’s unfortunate that it has to be shut down for injury,” Hawks head coach, Matt Flinn, told foxsports.com.au via text, after news of Ball’s latest development was released.
“The kid was on a rapid rise of development, mostly due to the work we put into him with team concepts.
“The Ball camp, regardless of what happens, will owe us a great load of gratitude. I love LaMelo and have had a ball coaching him…. pun intended.”
At this point, it’s unclear whether Ball will remain in Wollongong to remain with the Hawks, or return to the United States to continue his pre-draft workouts at home.
Jackson said Ball will “focus on his rehab and pay more attention to his race horse.” Ball is the new owner of a thoroughbred named LAMELO.
The 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled for June 26 (AEDT).
Olgun Uluc is the Senior Basketball Reporter for Fox Sports Australia. Twitter: