LaMelo Ball leaves Aussie team to prepare for NBA draft

Field Level Media

Posted at Jan 30 2020 08:27 AM

LaMelo Ball, out with a foot injury, left his Australian team this week to return to the United States to rehabilitate and prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft, leaving behind some hard feelings.

A bone bruise on his left foot sustained last month was expected to keep the 18-year-old on the bench for the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League for the rest of the season, but the team thought the projected top five draft pick might stick around a while longer. The league is holding a big event - its first-ever Indigenous Round - this weekend.

Instead, he apparently left without saying goodbye.

His teammate with the Hawks, Todd Blanchfield, told ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) News that he had no idea Ball had left when the network contacted him for his reaction.

"It's news to me, but [Ball's camp has] got an agenda they have to take care of," Blanchfield said.

"We were teammates for half the season while he was playing, and we had our ups and downs, but it would have been good to say goodbye."

Hawks owner Simon Stratford told NewsCorp the same thing, per ABC Australia.

"I'm really disappointed that he didn't say goodbye to his teammates and his coach," he said.

Ball decided to spend his gap year between high school and NBA eligibility playing professionally in Australia instead of in college. He played in just 12 games with the Hawks, averaging 17 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists, and shooting 37 percent overall.

He is the youngest of controversial businessman LaVar Ball's sons. Oldest brother Lonzo is the point guard for the New Orleans Pelicans.

--Field Level Media

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