I happened to catch ESPN’s latest NBA mock draft on SportsCenter last night, and one thing stuck out to me. There’s a legitimate shot that two players from the same high school get taken in the top five in June, or whenever the hell this draft happens.
That high school is, of course, Chino Hills High out in LA, made famous by the first family of basketball, the Ball’s. Both LaMelo Ball and Onyeka Okongwu are Chino Hills class of 2019 (at least Melo would have been if he didn’t do his Lithuanian tour and subsequent stint at SPIRE Institute). People sleep on how insane this is. A quick Bing search shows that there are over 24,000 public high schools in the US, and thousands more private ones. Sixty people get taken in the draft every year. If we (conservatively) assume that there are 30,000 high school basketball teams in the country, the chances that two teammates get taken in the same draft are 250,000-to-1 (trust me on the math here, I’m an engineer). And that’s in the whole draft, we’re talking about the TOP FIVE.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 2015, you know who Melo is and have seen countless mixtapes of his. You might think that he’s a lazy player who cherry picks and puts up mind-boggling numbers. That was sophomore year Melo. Since then he’s sprouted up to 6’ 8” with a close to 7 foot wingspan while maintaining his guard skills. He can be pretty lazy on defense, but you’ll take that every day when he’s wetting 30 footers on the other end. You’d probably guess that I’m a massive Melo fan. You would be correct. What can I say, I have a soft spot for long, plus IQ, minus athlete lead guards. Ty Jerome is my favorite player for God’s sake. Okongwu is obviously much less known outside of college basketball fans but he’s a Bam Adebayo clone and a perfect fit for today’s NBA.
It’s pretty evident that these guys have one man to thank for everything they’ve accomplished in life, and he happens to be the featured image for this blog. LaVar is like a Kardashian in that no matter how you feel about him, his ability to promote a brand and make headlines has to be admired. No move is more Kris Jenner-esque than him coaxing LaMelo to buy the Australian team he played for en lieu of playing American college ball. Let that sink in. An 18 year old is now the owner of a professional sports franchise. I mean this guy’s just a walking content machine. This was him after Lonzo got taken in the 2017 NBA draft.
I want LaVar to be my Siri voice. The best part about that clip is he’s being dead serious. At no point during his life has he done something as a bit. He even says this in the video that he’s been saying these things since Lonzo was born, and I 100% believe him. This next video really shows where his sons got their basketball talent from.
You guys might be dissing LaVar’s skill here but I’m more focused on the team he’s playing. There’s no way the team in white should even be in the same league as these losers in maroon. The guy who blocked his shot 25 seconds in legitimately has his head at the rim.
Nobody was talking about Chino Hills before the Ball’s showed up. If you go to the Chino Hills High School Wikipedia page, the only famous alumni you’ve ever heard of are the Ball brothers. A funny touch on Wikipedia is that if you click the “Ball brothers” hyperlink it goes to the personal life section of LaVar’s Wikipedia page. This guy has inserted himself into every possible outlet and I absolutely love it.
You won’t find a bigger Ball family stan than myself, so I had to write a few words to show my admiration for what they’ve done for the game of ball.
Is there a more iconic family in basketball? Hit me up @jziller17 to debate.
P.S. I haven’t written about LiAngelo yet, but that may be LaVar’s best work yet. He’s a fat, 6’ 5” post player and somehow got a G League deal. If that’s not genius-level marketing I don’t know what is.