<
>

Banged-up LaMelo Ball shutting down Aussie season

play
The Best of NBL LaMelo Vol. 1 (0:49)

The best plays from LaMelo Ball's first games in the NBL with the Illawarra Hawks. (0:49)

LaMelo Ball's season in Australia is over, his manager, Jermaine Jackson, told ESPN via text message.

A bone bruise suffered in early December sidelined Ball 12 games into the season, and he has run out of time to complete the required rehab before the season ends.

"Melo's foot is totally healed, but the doctor's policy is if you're out for six weeks, you must rehab for six weeks," Jackson texted. "He's starting court work tomorrow."

Ball's team, the Illawarra Hawks, has six games remaining in the regular season, which concludes Feb. 14. Ball shutting down his season will not come as a surprise to NBA teams, as few anticipated Ball risking further injury.

Ball was on an upward trajectory prior to his injury, tallying consecutive triple-doubles in his final two games in the Australian NBL. He finished the season averaging 17 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.7 steals in 31 minutes per game, emerging as the potential No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft thanks to his combination of size, ballhandling ability, creativity and passing instincts.

Ball struggled at times with efficiency, shooting just 46 percent from 2-point range and 25 percent from 3, and will need to improve significantly on defense to hold his own against NBA point guards.

Most NBA decision-makers did not have an opportunity to evaluate Ball in person during his time in Australia. Although several scouts told ESPN they feel Ball is the most talented prospect in the draft, he has a significant amount of work to do to convince teams he will reach his full potential, due to concerns about his reportedly erratic work ethic, potential distractions generated by his father, LaVar, and the foot injury that forced him to miss more than half this season.

Fellow projected lottery pick RJ Hampton reinjured his hip in his last game against Brisbane and is not expected to play in the New Zealand Breakers' next game against Sydney. Hampton is questionable to return for the final seven games of the regular season, as the Breakers (9-12) are close to being eliminated from postseason contention.