Eric Sondheimer has been covering high school sports for the Los Angeles Times since 1997 and in Southern California since 1976. Get his latest from the field and follow all our prep sports coverage and analysis here.
The high school basketball career of LaMelo Ball is over.
The 16-year-old junior at Chino Hills will be home-schooled and not play for any team, his father, LaVar Ball, said Monday in a phone call.
"I'm going to make him the best basketball player ever," LaVar said.
He intends to check him out on Tuesday.
LaMelo scored 92 points for Chino Hills in a game last season. Brother Lonzo is the Lakers' new point guard and brother LiAngelo will be a freshman at UCLA.
LaVar had already been concerned about Chino Hills' new coach, Dennis Latimore, who is the third coach in the last three years for the Huskies.
When LaVar was critical of Latimore about a month ago, the coach said he would not respond to his comments. Latimore did not return phone messages on Monday.
"It's good for Melo," LaVar said. "Less distractions. He just needs to focus."
Former head Coach Steve Baik, who guided Chino Hills to 35-0 record two seasons ago before leaving for Fairfax, said, “A year ago, a few months ago, I thought this could never happen. I am really disappointed it couldn’t have worked out better for LaMelo and all the players. They’re really good kids. If I knew it was going to end up this way, maybe I wouldn’t have left. I didn’t forsee this happening.”
The next time people will be able to see LaMelo play is next spring in travel ball.
"They'll have to sit back and wait," LaVar said.
Baik said, “In basketball terms, he’s going to be fine. They know what it takes, and they have the right people to tell him the exact things to get better. They've done things differently. It’s worked for him. It’s not going to work for everybody.”
LaVar said LaMelo still intends to sign with UCLA.
The loss of LaMelo from the high school ranks will have a major impact on Southern California basketball.
Not only did Chino Hills sell out gyms with the Ball brothers but also competed for championships.