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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / November 18.
  • LaMelo Ball wants to play in college, new coach says he can be No. 1 pick in 2020 NBA Draft

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    LaMelo Ball wants to play college basketball and his new high school coach says he can be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.

    After arriving Friday at Spire Academy (Ohio), Ball told reporters he wants to play in college for a top program like Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky or Michigan State. LaMelo, who once scored 92 points in a high school game, initially committed to UCLA but his father, LaVar Ball, pulled him out in October 2017 with the intention of home-schooling him.

    Ball, now listed at 6-foot-7, announced Tuesday that he would enroll at Spire following brief stints playing in Lithuania and with the Junior Ballers Association, which is run by his father.

    Because Spire is not a member of a state high school association, Ball is free to play at Spire despite his pro background.  Sources also told ZAGSBLOG that the Ball family believes LaMelo could still be college-eligible going forward because he did not take any money.

    Still, LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball reporteldy signed with agent Harrison Gaines — also Lonzo’s agent — in December 2017, which could rule him out of college eligibility. The NCAA in August announced that select high school players would be able to sign with agents once the NBA one-and-done rule is changed, so Ball’s camp believes LaMelo is at least in a gray area there.

    If ineligible for college, that would leave Ball with the option of going to the G League or overseas (again) in 2019.

    Jermaine Jackson, who played in the NBA for the Pistons, Raptors, Hawks and Knicks and is now the Spire head coach, says Ball could be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft in a couple of years.

    “In my opinion, LaMelo Ball can be the No. 1 pick in a year or two going to the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Jackson told TMZ Sports

    “Ain’t no question about it.”

    Jackson said he and LaVar are getting along well and he isn’t concerned about the father meddling in his team.

    “I’m from the hood, man, I done seen it all,” Jackson said. “I ain’t concerned about nothing. If LaVar’s meddling in our team, we’ll have conversations and we’ll talk, and I’m about what’s right. It’s not about who’s right, it’s about what’s right.”

    At Spire, LaMelo will join Michigan State-bound guard Mark “Rocket” Watts and uncommitted Class of 2020 forward Isaiah Jackson on the roster.

    He could play with his new team as early as Saturday in Philadelphia.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.