LaVar Ball is yet to offer details about why Lonzo Ball’s signature shoe carries an unprecedented $495 price tag, but he fielded questions about it on Tuesday. The father of the former UCLA star said on Fox Sports 1’s Undisputed that Michael Jordan couldn’t price his shoes that high “because he ain’t Lonzo Ball, that’s why.”
Lonzo Ball’s signature shoe, produced by his family company Big Baller Brand, was revealed on Thursday. The price of the ZO2 Prime has dominated the discussion since. LaVar Ball said he and Lonzo independently decided on the $495 price, but was tight-lipped about the discussion that led to a significantly higher number than the most expensive Jordan Brand shoes.
Aaron Holiday’s future in the NBA is murky, but so is his role if he returns to UCLA. (Thomas Cordova/SCNG)
As Aaron Holiday decides whether to make the jump to the NBA, there is more to analyze than just his draft stock. The sophomore guard is assuredly taking a hard look at what type of situation he would land in back at UCLA.
Holiday, who showed solid development as a point guard last season despite the presence of the nation’s assist leader on his own team, could be passed over by another freshman point guard in identical fashion. Lonzo Ball ran the show for UCLA before departing for the NBA and the possibility exists for McDonald’s All-American Jaylen Hands to do the same next season.
Holiday has declared for the NBA draft, but has until May 24 to withdraw his name and return to UCLA. He is not currently projected to be among the 60 NBA draft picks on June 22.
Steve Alford bounced back from a losing season in a big way, but fell short of realizing his 2016-17 team’s potential. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)
Strengths: It’s not as gratifying as wizardry with Xs and Os, but there is no shame in a college basketball coach’s greatest strength being recruiting. Steve Alford landed three five-star prospects in 2016, but that doesn’t begin to do justice to their talent. All three UCLA freshman last season are expected to be first-round draft picks in June and Lonzo Ball could be the No. 1 overall selection. No matter how good the coach, he can’t succeed without good players. Alford is clearly gaining momentum on the recruiting front, following his best class at UCLA with a 2017 haul ranked No. 2 in the country.
Weaknesses: Alford was consistently slow to make in-game adjustments this season, showing reluctance to take risks when things were going in the wrong direction. USC flummoxed Alford with a simple zone defense in the Bruins’ ugliest loss of the season Jan. 25 at Galen Center. As UCLA’s defense reached its lowest point of the season, a 96-85 loss at home to Arizona, Alford stuck with an offensively oriented lineup while Aaron Holiday and Ike Anigbogu played just 23 and 12 minutes, respectively.
Lonzo Ball may prove himself to be a once-in-a-generation player. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Strengths: Lonzo Ball should be flattered by the Jason Kidd comparisons, but UCLA’s point guard more than justified them by leading the NCAA in assists and surpassing Kidd’s best single-season total at Cal. Passing ability is where comparisons between the two end. Ball doesn’t just have otherworldly vision, he shoots a high percentage, stands two inches taller than Kidd and possesses the athleticism to play above the rim. Even as dynamic as Ball proved himself to be, his passing ability was clearly his best attribute. It was so exceptional, coupled with his unselfish attitude, Ball infected the rest of UCLA’s roster with a team-first approach not often found at any level of basketball in this era.
Weaknesses: Deep into the season after Ball had been thoroughly scouted, he mounted what looked like a concerted effort to dispatch the notion he didn’t have a mid-range game. But even by season’s end, only 7.6 percent of his shot attempts weren’t at the rim or beyond the 3-point line, according to hoop-math.com. Ball shot just 26 jumpers inside the arc and made 12 of them – in 36 games. Pretty alarming numbers on the surface for a player with unconventional shooting form that doesn’t particularly lend itself to a pull-up jumper. Ball filled a stat sheet like nobody else in college basketball, but mid-range shooting is a hole in an otherwise comprehensive resume.
TJ Leaf was the most dynamic offensive weapon for the highest-scoring team in college basketball
Strengths: TJ Leaf was the best one-on-one player on the highest-scoring team in the country. Coupled with the freshman forward’s ability to run (and stretch) the floor, he was UCLA’s most dynamic offensive weapon. Surrounded by shooters and the best facilitator in college basketball, Leaf was in an ideal situation to succeed. But when he needed to create his own shot, he had abundant success scoring on anyone from anywhere. His 61.7 field goal percentage ranked fourth among all power five conference players and the 6-foot-10 freshman shot 47 percent from 3-point range, making him the best stretch four in college basketball aside from Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen.
Weaknesses: Leaf was plenty athletic and surprisingly physical on the defensive end, but he was very slow to adapt as a help defender. Most of Leaf’s defensive shortcomings were mental. He was slow to rotate, was consistently beaten on back-door cuts and generally had a difficult time keeping his head on a swivel. UCLA’s lack of perimeter defense put an unhealthy amount of pressure on UCLA’s big men, but it also exposed Leaf’s lack of continuity with his teammates on the defensive end.