LaMelo Ball hype grows, predicted to be No1. NBA pick in ESPN's mock draft

CENTRE STAGE: LaMelo Ball finds his way past Georgia Chrystal-Foy (left) and Audra Pasakarnis. The Illawarra Hawks played an exhibition game against St Mary Star of the Sea College students on Tuesday. Picture: Adam McLean
CENTRE STAGE: LaMelo Ball finds his way past Georgia Chrystal-Foy (left) and Audra Pasakarnis. The Illawarra Hawks played an exhibition game against St Mary Star of the Sea College students on Tuesday. Picture: Adam McLean

The LaMelo hype train has gone into overdrive.

ESPN's NBA mock draft was released on Tuesday with Ball predicted to be taken with next year's top pick.

New Zealand Breakers guard RJ Hampton, who is part of the NBL Next Stars program with Ball, is expected to be pick No.5 in 2020.

The draft news follows Ball, 18, getting his second straight triple-double for the Illawarra Hawks on Saturday.

Unfortunately, the performance was in vain as the Hawks lost again, this time by 91-79 against New Zealand Breakers. Their season record now stands at 3-9.

Hawks captain Todd Blanchfield said Ball was leading the side well but needed more support.

"I suppose the ball's in his hands a lot. Obviously losing Aaron [Brooks] was a big thing for us, he was a big part of what we did. But that was a while ago now so we have to be able to make adjustments," Blanchfield said.

"When we come back to the middle, on ball, he's the best that we've got in that situation. We're going to go to him. I think we, as a group, want to put the ball in his hand with a late clock and we want things to happen. I'm on the court with him a lot, I've got to do a better job of putting him into [good] positions, instead of where their defence is set and we're watching him go virtually one on five.

"[But] he's playing well at the moment and we'll be looking to milk that as much as we can."

As for the man himself, Ball said he was focused on doing whatever he could to help the Hawks turn their season around.

"It was [another] loss. We've got to practise and get better every day. We're looking forward to the next game," the teen said.

"[But] everybody's cool you know, we're all getting along. We're all just trying to push this [forward] and get some wins."

LaMelo Ball in action against the New Zealand Breakers on Saturday. Picture: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

LaMelo Ball in action against the New Zealand Breakers on Saturday. Picture: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

This story LaMelo Ball hype grows, predicted to be No1. NBA pick in ESPN's mock draft first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.