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Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills has chance to be a top prep point guard

The 6-foot-5 sophomore brings energy and excitement to the basketball court and is ready to set a standard of excellence at the point guard position.

November 24, 2013|Eric Sondheimer

Like a shooting star streaking on a cloudless night, Lonzo Ball of Chino Hills creates the same kind of energy and excitement each time he steps onto the basketball court.

Maybe it's the precision passes that somehow find their way into the hands of a startled teammate. Maybe it's the sudden burst of spring in his legs as he elevates for a rebound, then dribbles the length of the court. Maybe it's the unselfishness of a 16-year-old who receives as much joy from an assist as making a three-pointer.

Whatever the cause and effect, the 6-foot-5 Ball is a sophomore ready to set the standard for excellence at the point guard position over the next three seasons.

"I'm trying to be the best, and if you want to be the best, you have to work at it every day," Ball said.

It's easy to see why Coach Steve Baik calls Ball "a dream player."

Ball had one B on his report card as a freshman. That has been changed to all A's as a sophomore. He has a consistent workout routine that includes rising at 6 a.m., going to the gym before school to practice shooting, attending class, practicing, going home, running hills, doing push-ups, doing pull-ups, lifting weights and practicing more fundamentals.

His father, Lavar, who played basketball at Canoga Park in the 1980s, provides basketball guidance. His mother, Tina, who played basketball at Cal State Los Angeles and is a teacher, makes sure academics gets as much emphasis as free throws.

It's a one-two parental punch that has left Ball with a clear understanding of priorities.

"As hard as my dad pushes me in basketball, it's equal with my mom in school," he said.

As a freshman, he averaged 14.3 points. He has skills that any college basketball program will surely want.

"His maturity at his age is unbelievable," Baik said. "He has such a high basketball IQ. He learns things so quickly."

Winning is high on Ball's list of basketball goals, and that means he's willing and ready to do whatever it takes to help his team succeed.

His all-around game and growing size has Baik mentioning Ball in the same breath as Magic Johnson.

"He's so gifted," Baik said. "We're so fortunate to have him."

This season, Ball's 6-3 freshman brother, LiAngelo, has joined Chino Hills, so there should be even more fun to be gained in the Ball family.

The season gets underway this week, and what's clear is it might be the year of the point guard. Four top seniors have already signed letters of intent — Jordan McLaughlin of Etiwanda with USC, Parker Jackson-Cartwright of Los Angeles Loyola with Arizona, Robert Cartwright of La Canada Flintridge Prep with Stanford and Kyron Cartwright of Compton with Loyola Marymount. There's more than two dozen other point guards considered standout players for their respective teams.

Ball will be near the top of any list, and basketball fans have lots to look forward to, because Ball understands he has a chance to be a very good entertainer.

"It's basically a show," he said. "I'm trying to put on a show for the fans and at the same time get the win. I'm going to have fun while I'm doing it, and when the fans get hyped up, it pushes me even harder."

Twitter: @LATSondheimer

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