Lonzo Ball played like a freshman for nearly 39 minutes on Thursday night. It only took him 40 seconds after that stretch to show why he’s a prospective top-two NBA draft pick.
Playing at home against no. 5 Oregon, no. 10 UCLA played its streakiest game as college basketball’s streakiest team, but after trailing by as much as 19, the Bruins held onto a narrow lead with just over a minute remaining. As the shot clock wound down with UCLA up by three, Ball — with just 10 points to that point, and three times as many turnovers as assists — dribbled into an isolation at the top of the key.
Crossing once between his legs, then twice, Ball waited until his defender shifted his weight to strike, unleashing a sudden left-to-right crossover to burst into the paint. Three Ducks surrounded him, so Ball rose, dipped, and rose again. Good off glass; the lead was five.
Then came the highlight of the night. After an Oregon 3-pointer cut the Bruins’ lead to two, Ball started in the same position atop the key. This time, his defender stayed close to angle off the driving lane. But Ball and his brothers have been shooting 30-footers all their lives — what better chance to show off the family signature than in a prime-time ESPN showcase against a top-five opponent?
As he picked up his dribble, Ball’s back foot stood closer to the midcourt UCLA logo than to the 3-point arc. Yet none of his teammates even raised their arms for a pass; they know what their point guard can do. “LONG 3,” announcer Dave Pasch intoned. “Of course!”
UCLA completed the comeback win, 82–79. Ball tied for the team lead in points (15) and 3-pointers (three), and despite posting a career low with just one assist, he logged a double-double with 11 rebounds. The Bruins won again, and the Ball brothers added another outrageous highlight to their fast-growing collection. Of course.