• 72°

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

By Steve Reed, AP Sports Writer

LaMelo Ball is thrilled to have a chance to play for the Charlotte Hornets. But the 6-foot-7 point guard is more excited to play for the one of the greatest basketball players of all time in Michael Jordan.

“Man, straight blessing, for real,” Ball said of the six-time NBA champion and current Hornets owner. “I don’t even have enough words to say, I’m just blessed.”

The Hornets selected Ball with the No. 3 pick in the NBA draft, giving Jordan’s team a player with immediate notoriety and a rookie who can help put fans in the seats once the coronavirus subsides. Ball has amassed more than 5.6 million followers on Instagram — which is 600,000 more than last year’s No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

“He’s a very young talented player who plays the kind of pace that we like to play,” Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said. “He has a flare to his game that maybe has some entertainment to it, maybe more so than some other players. (But) that’s not why we drafted him. We drafted him because of his size and length and the way he can handle the ball and the way he pushes the ball.”

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 averaged 18.2 points per game in his second season, while Rozier averaged 18 points per game after coming over from the Celtics.

Kupchak said he’s not concerned about that, adding that he could foresee Ball playing some point forward alongside four other players who are 6-7 or shorter.

Ball said he’s all for that.

“I feel like I fit anywhere,” Ball said. “It is positionless basketball. I feel like I can get it and go.”

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 because of his shiftiness. He finished 17th in the NBL last season in scoring, averaging 17 points per game although he only played in 12 games.

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 Lonzo, who now plays for New Orleans Pelicans. Ball left to play professionally overseas after his junior season of high school, first playing in the Lithuanian league and later for the Hawks.

Lonzo and LaMelo are the first brothers to be selected in the top five.

“I feel like I was born to do this,” Ball said.

The Hornets have not won a playoff series since the 2001-02 season, but are hoping Ball can help change that.

READ ABOUT MORE SPORTS NEWS HERE.

News

Recreational and commercial flounder seasons adjusted for 2021

Business

Frosties: Serving up sweet treats on Roanoke Island

Crime

North Carolina man arrested for shooting at sheriff’s deputy

Crime

Pursuit into Moyock leads to arrest of Norfolk woman for multiple charges

Crime

North Carolina woman pleads guilty to wire fraud, making false statements

News

Falling short: Why the White House will miss its COVID-19 vaccination target

News

Medical marijuana legalization in North Carolina gets hearing in Senate

News

ECU, Vidant Health to clinically integrate, create ECU-branded academic health system

Currituck

Two vehicles involved in Currituck County wreck

Crime

North Carolina man accused of killing girlfriend, transporting body to Tennessee

News

North Carolina woman scores $100,000 lottery prize

News

Draft compatibility determination for replacing Ryders Creek Bridge out for review

Business

Angie Matthews named Outer Banks Hospital Employee of the Month for June

Crime

North Carolina man arrested in fatal shooting

Crime

North Carolina man pleads guilty to theft of government property, Social Security fraud

News

Several scenic byway signs have been stolen since original installation

News

Extensive damage reported in early morning Kill Devil Hills structure fire

News

Bill raising minimum North Carolina marriage age to 16 continues to advance

News

Set of family birthdays win Perquimans County woman $100,000 Cash 5 jackpot

Business

Ribbon cutting held for Island Guesthouse & Motel

Crime

North Carolina man charged in roadside shooting incident

News

Jamie Whitley honored by North Carolina Association of Municipal Clerks

News

Sheriff’s office investigating infant drowning in bathtub at North Carolina home

Business

Long & Foster Real Estate office celebrated with grand opening and ribbon cutting event