LaVar Ball on Steve Alford: He knows my boys; glad he's staying

ByJeff Goodman ESPN logo
Sunday, March 26, 2017

LaVar Ball, who opted to stay in California to tend to his ailing wife instead of going to Memphis, Tennessee, to watch his oldest son,Lonzo,play against Kentucky, told ESPN he is glad Steve Alford is remaining at UCLAto coach his younger sons.

"I feel good about that," LaVar Ball said. "He knows my boys. I like his style, and I'm glad he's staying."

There had been speculation that Alford was headed back to his alma mater, Indiana. However, Alford told ESPN shortly after Friday night's Sweet 16 loss that he wasn't going to talk to IU about the vacancy that wound up being filled hours later by Dayton's Archie Miller.

The elder Ball has been tight-lipped about his wife, Tina, but he told ESPN that she is recovering from a recent medical procedure and that was the reason he didn't travel to Memphis. LaVar Ball did not want to elaborate on the specifics of her condition but said she is improving and that his two younger sons went to see her on Thursday.

"She's making progress," he said. "It's been a slow recovery."

Lonzo Ball has had an All-American-caliber season, averaging 14.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game. According to several NBA general managers and scouts, the 6-foot-6 floor leader is a lock to be selected in the top three of June's NBA draft.'

Ball struggled for much of the game Friday night, scoring 10 points and dishing out eight assists. After the game, Ball told reporters in the locker room that it was his final college game.

"When I talked to him after the game, I told him, 'You're going to win. You're going to lose. It's OK. No one goes undefeated,'" LaVar Ball said. "They went 15-17 last year and went to the Sweet 16. This won't be his legacy. It's just a step to get to the ultimate goal -- the NBA."

LaVar Ball said he would have liked for Lonzo to have been more aggressive looking for his own shot at times during the game but felt that he had a successful college season and career.

"They came up short, but one game doesn't define his season," LaVar Ball said. "No one is going to takeDe'Aaron Foxover him because of one game. It's about your body of work, and people know what he can do."

"He said after the game that he didn't make enough plays," he added of Lonzo's performance. "He understands there are plays he should have made, that he wasn't aggressive enough. He started off aggressive but then eased up and went into pass mode."

While Lonzo Ball's college career is ending, the middle Ball brother,LiAngelo, will join the Bruins as a freshman next season -- and LaVar isn't reining in the expectations, even though LiAngelo comes in as an unheralded recruit.

"He's chasing Lonzo and has the same mindset," LaVar Ball said of LiAngelo. "He's a different type of player. He's 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, and is a scorer. He might average 20 next year, maybe even close to 30 a game. He's been a scorer all his life. He's led Chino Hills in scoring all four years. UCLA is losing all their scorers -- Lonzo, TJ [Leaf]and [Isaac] Hamilton. Nobody who's coming in is a better scorer than Gelo."

The youngest Ball, LaMelo, is a sophomore who has verbally committed to play for the Bruins.

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