Hornets select LaMelo Ball with No. 3 pick in NBA draft


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)The Charlotte Hornets have selected 6-foot-7 point guard LaMelo Ball with the third overall pick in the NBA draft, giving Michael Jordan’s team a player with immediate notoriety.

The decision came after Timberwolves selected Anthony Edwards No. 1 overall and the Warriors followed by drafting center James Wiseman.

It’s unclear what the addition of Ball means for Charlotte’s starting backcourt of Devonte Graham and Terry Rozier, the team’s two leading scorers last season. Graham emerged as a scorer in his second season averaging 18.2 points per game while Rozier averaged 18 points per game after coming over from the Celtics.

Ball is most comfortable with the ball in his hands and brings exceptional ball handling and court vision to the NBA after averaging seven assists per game last season for Australia’s Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League.

He’s considered a fearless shooter and has shown the ability to get shots off quickly. He finished 17th in the NBL last season in scoring, averaging 17 points per game and was eighth in rebounding at 7.5 per game before suffering a foot injury. He only played in 12 games but had triple-doubles in back-to-back games for the Hawks.

Ball left to play professionally overseas after his junior season of high school, first playing in the Lithuanian league and later for the Hawks. In between he played his senior year of high school basketball in Ohio.

Ball first earned national attention during his freshman year at Chino Hills High School in California where he won a state title playing alongside his older brothers LiAngelo and current NBA player Lonzo. That helped him amass more than 5.6 million Instagram followers – which is 600,000 more than last year’s No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

His older brother Lonzo plays for the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Hornets are looking to build a winner after missing the playoffs in each of the last four seasons. Charlotte has not won a playoff series since the 2001-02 season.

Ball’s father, LaVar, briefly played for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. LaVar Ball once challenged Jordan to a 1-on-1 game.

This is the third time the Hornets have selected a player No. 3 overall. They hit on Baron Davis in 1999, but Adam Morrison turned out to be a bust after being selected third in 2006, starting just 28 games during his brief NBA career.

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