Lonzo Ball breaks Gary Payton’s Pac-12 freshman assist record

Lonzo Ball may not physically be at UCLA more than a year. But the Bruins’ point guard is making sure he’ll have a presence for a long time.

Ball broke Gary Payton’s 30-year-old Pac-12 freshman assist record Saturday night. Yes, that Gary Payton.

Before he was a nine-time NBA all-star, he dished 229 assists at Oregon State – in 1987. Ball needed three assists Saturday night to break the record. He had done so after three baskets.

The nation’s leader in assists ended the 77-68 win over Washington State in the regular season finale with a season-high 14 assists. He now has 241 on the season and can set his sights on UCLA’s school record.

Ball broke the Bruins’ freshman assist record more than a month ago, surpassing Pooh Richardson’s 182 assists on Feb. 1. Larry Drew II’s mark of 256 assists in a single season is the next milestone.

Ball needs 15 assists to tie the mark. He is averaging 7.8 per game. UCLA gets a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament, but the Bruins could play three games in the conference tournament if they reach the finals, giving Ball ample opportunity to break UCLA’s school record.