Column: Chino Hills’ Lonzo Ball is The Times’ boys’ basketball player of the year
6-foot-6 senior from Chino Hills led team to 35-0 record
Months ago, before the hype, before the soaring expectations and before the sold-out gyms became part of his weekly routine, Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills made it clear how he was going to evaluate his senior season in basketball.
“Point guards are judged by wins and losses, not by how many points they score,” he said. “If I have to pass to win, that’s what I’ll do. If I have to score to win, that’s what I’ll do.”
Ball’s singular focus on doing whatever it took to deliver victory proved more than incisive. It was the reason he and his teammates fulfilled their seasonlong goal of finishing 35-0 and winning the CIF state Open Division championship, along with a No. 1 ranking in Southern California and nationally.
For his many contributions, Ball has been selected the Los Angeles Times’ boys’ basketball player of the year.
Triple-doubles became the norm for the 6-foot-6 Ball, who has signed with UCLA, played in the McDonald’s All-American game and has been named the national player of the year by several organizations.
He’ll go down in history as one of the greatest high school point guards in California history, being mentioned with the likes of Jason Kidd.
Ball’s unselfishness will be remembered and copied, for it was his example of how to pass the ball to the open player that made Chino Hills such a special team and created a unique chemistry that featured a team of players who did not care about who scored. He had 13 assists in the recent McDonald’s All-American game.
He averaged 23.4 points, 11.5 rebounds and nearly 13 assists a game. He was a true entertainer, delivering dunks and lob passes to incite the fans. The chance to play with his two younger brothers, LiAngelo, a junior, and LaMelo, a freshman, produced a team for the ages.
It was halftime of the state championship game when Chino Hills trailed Concord De La Salle by two points that Ball brought together all the players and gave them a pep talk, reminding them to settle down and not to forget how the team had won 34 games in a row.
In the third quarter, Chino Hills came out and put on a show, with Ball contributing consecutive dunks, leading to a 70-50 victory.
Riverside North Coach Mike Bartee said of Chino Hills, “It was the greatest show on earth.”
Lonzo Ball was the ring leader.
Follow Eric Sondheimer on Twitter @LATSondheimer
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