It was a sight behold at this year's Hoop Hall West event in Scottsdale, Arizona at Chaparral High School as one of the most popular student-athletes in any sport in the world invaded this year's event. In front of a standing-room only crowd, that filled the gymnasium a full hour before the game began, Spire Institute (OH) and 6-foot-6 senior guard LaMelo Ball put on a show against Arizona's own Bella Vista Prep.
The anticipation for Friday's night was historic in Arizona high school basketball, as fans that normally would not attend a high school basketball game of this kind, actually flooded the gymnasium in hopes of watching Ball and the potential exploits of his father LaVar Ball. LaMelo Ball and his Spire team would absolutely not disappoint the large crowd in attendance, as they would cruise past a talented Bella Vista program, 85-69.
LaMelo Ball would finish with an impressive 18 points and 10 assists in the victory, which included long-range bombs, superior command presence on the floor with terrific passing and ball handling and a dunk or two in transition that brought extreme attention from the crowd.
I have been watching LaMelo Ball now for 4 -5 years, and am amazed at his development as a player and a college prospect. I first saw him as a mere 7th grader, while playing with his older brothers on the 17U club circuit. At that time, the young middle-schooler was able to compete at a high level against much older competition, and it is amazing to see him now much older, taller, longer and with excellent poise on the basketball court. While it is still unclear as to whether Ball will attend a college next fall, due to NCAA eligibility requirements, he is a sure-fire prop prospect over time, as a result of his talent and superior level of self-confidence, which is contagious for his teammates. If he gets cleared by the NCAA, it will be a race for college programs to land the gifted guard prospect.
Notes: Bella Vista's 6-foot-7 junior wing Addison Patterson, while seeing his team get down early, was the top overall performer for his team on the evening. Currently rated among the top 30 overall prospects in America's junior 2020 Class, Patterson showed very good athleticism and toughness in the game and competed hard to keep his team in the contest. Patterson is a skilled and versatile prospect that should only continue to garner loads of recruiting interest, but will need to continue to add consistency on his perimeter jump shot to open up his play . . .
Bella Vista Prep 7-foot-1 senior post Rick Issanza is one of the top available post prospects in the country, and he proved why on Friday evening, as he calmed things down early as the game was gettign away from Bella Vista quickly in the contest. Issanza blocked and changed shots, while also running the floor hard and finishing in transition high above the rim. Issanza competed hard while his teammates lacked confidence early, and showed excellent promise and potential for the future. A prospect with unlimited potential and superior upside. Still raw offensively, Issanza can change a game like many others cannot, on the defensive end. Love this prospect's promise for the future.