Is Steve Alford comfortable with Lonzo Ball’s 30-foot 3-pointers?

Freshman point guard Lonzo Ball said the UCLA coaching staff hasn’t tried to dissuade him from shooting well behind the 19-foot, 9-inch 3-point line

Lonzo Ball took the most important shot of the UCLA basketball team’s season last week – when he was 30 feet from the basket. As a reference point, the college 3-point line is 19 feet, 9 inches. The NBA line is four feet beyond that.

The analytics movement promotes 3-pointers, but how does the Bruins’ coaching staff feel about Ball hoisting shots from 30 feet?

“As long as they’re going in,” Ball said, “they don’t really care.”

With 32 seconds left against Oregon, Ball’s step-back, contested 30-footer touched nothing but the bottom of the net. It was the decisive basket in UCLA’s 82-79 win a week ago over then-No. 5 Oregon.

Twenty-six games into his college career, Ball is shooting 43 percent from 3-point range. Steve Alford learned of Ball’s penchant for 3-pointers from NBA range and beyond while recruiting him at Chino Hills High School more than three years ago. The UCLA coach never tried to rein in his freshman point guard, said he never had a reason to.

“As far out as they can go to where they consistently make them, I’m fine with,” Alford said. “Lonzo has always had that ability. He’s kind of grown up in high school and he’s had that ability. Now you’ve got to pick and choose and I think he’s done a very good job this year of understanding the ebb and flow of the game of when to do that and when not to do it.”

Ball’s go-to shot with the clock winding down has been the deep, step-back 3-pointer.

In addition to his mammoth shot against Oregon, he made similarly notable shots at the end of the first half in wins against Kentucky and Cal.

Ball said the freedom given to him by the coaching staff allows him to simply trust his instincts in all aspects of his game.

“Coach Alford has always been on my side from Day 1 and he makes it very easy for me,” Ball said. “Any time you’ve got your coach not putting any chains on you, telling you ‘You’ve got to do this. You’ve got to do that.’ As long as you can go out there and play, it helps my game tremendously.”

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  • Hogsman

    I’m more concerned with what his father says to the media.

    • jameskatt

      With a son that scored 90 points in a game, I think his father has the right to say what the Ball sons can be.

      • Hogsman

        Of course he has a right to say whatever he wants about his sons, but pissing people off and making enemies for his sons won’t help them succeed. Plus, there’s something called humility that he should be modelling for his kids. There’s a difference between that and confidence.

        And while I’m glad that Lonzo is making 30-footers now, I think he might have trouble getting clean looks from 3 in the NBA unless he shortens his shooting motion. That hitch he currently has will get noticed quickly in the pros. He’s getting away with it now because none of his opponents have played him enough times to really learn his tendencies. However, in an 82-game NBA season, that might not work. I do think he has better point guard instincts than Curry, but we’ll have to wait and see if he can shoot as well.

    • MPPBruin

      With all of the sons coming to school we’re going to have to listen to Mr. Ball for the next several years. I’m already tired of this guy, but I’ll take it if the team stays good.