LaVar Ball removed his son, LiAngelo, from UCLA on Monday, this after the freshman was arrested and indefinitely suspended for shoplifting in China. LaVar’s youngest son, LaMelo, is one of the top prospects in the 2019 class and remains committed to UCLA, but it is unknown whether he will end up with the Bruins.
Either way, what should we make of LaVar Ball pulling his son from one of the most storied programs in college basketball history?
“He had made it clear going in that LiAngelo was going to play at UCLA for one year,” former NBA player and current CBS Sports NBA analyst Raja Bell said on Tiki and Tierney. “He’s kind of putting all the blame on UCLA, and really, it’s his kid’s fault. But if he was only going to be there one year and he’s got an indefinite suspension, there’s really no point in him staying enrolled at UCLA. You might as well take him somewhere and let him play and let him develop a little bit – because you don’t do that by sitting around and watching. So I had no beef with him pulling LiAngelo just because he had always said it was going to be a one-year gig.”
While Lonzo Ball was the No. 2 pick in the 2017 Draft and LaMelo appears to have NBA potential, LiAngelo’s future is less certain.
“The kid isn’t on most peoples’ draft boards at this point,” Bell said, “so to get enough of a resume and enough film for scouts and GMs to even be enticed to maybe take a flyer on him, he’d have to go play somewhere. Europe is probably the best option because you can make some decent money there, as well as play against grown men.”
In no way, though, was LiAngelo a one-and-done player.
“He’s a two-, three-year player, then go to Europe, maybe a four-year player, and make some money,” said Bell, who played in the CBA before carving out a 12-year NBA career. “I don’t think if the kid had his say in it (that) he would be so quick to say, ‘I want to bounce on this opportunity to play at UCLA.’ That’s a great environment. I think that’s more the dad pushing him than the kid’s not willing to go to school there. I think that’s the dad.”
One must wonder what effect this decision will have on LiAngelo long-term – and if LaVar’s decision was more about his son or, well, himself.
“I kind of liken him to the Kardashian mom,” Bell said. “They’ve taken essentially nothing and made it into this global empire. He’s obnoxious and he’s brash. Yeah, I get it. But he is paying zero dollars for all of this marketing, and I think you have to acknowledge that there is some genius in that.”