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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Column: People need to focus on other NBA draft prospects besides Lonzo Ball

<p>Former UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball (right) and his father, LaVar, shake hands after a game during the 2016-17 college basketball season.</p>

Former UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball (right) and his father, LaVar, shake hands after a game during the 2016-17 college basketball season.

When anyone talks about this year’s NBA Draft, the first name that always comes up is former UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball.

The hype surrounding him is endless, and that’s not just because of his playmaking abilities with a basketball in his hand. His dad, LaVar Ball, has made headlines everywhere with his insane and maniacal remarks about his children and the NBA.

He even released his own “Big Baller Brand” shoe that sells for $495 with Lonzo not having played a second of professional basketball.

LaVar also shared his plan for his three sons and their paths to the association. They will all be one-and-dones and will all end up on the Lakers, starting with Lonzo being drafted second overall by Los Angeles nine days from now.

It would be easy to spend an entire column writing about all of the things LaVar has said or done, but I’m not going to.

With all the attention of this draft going towards Lonzo and his father, it’s easy to forget about what else is going on.

So my message is simple.

Don’t let the Ball family take away from the rest of the players entering the draft.

Go back to hyping the athletes, not just the drama.

According to just about every mock draft, former Washington point guard Markelle Fultz will be taken No. 1 by the Boston Celtics. That’s almost a guarantee.

So why is nobody talking about him or what he could bring to the Celtics? Why isn’t he all over the NBA Draft news?

How about the other one-and-done freshmen who will most likely make up the top ten?

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Former Kentucky players Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox are looking to make their mark and have already been impressing some of the teams they have worked out with.

Where’s their hype?

Or how about Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac, Kansas’ Josh Jackson or Duke’s Jayson Tatum? Why aren’t they talked about as much?

This is the problem. The media is slowly moving away from covering these players and their stories, and instead is gravitating towards a single player, his dad and whatever crazy thing he says.

The biggest story about the NBA draft so far is if the Lakers will take Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick and prove LaVar right when he says they’re the only team his son will play for.

The biggest story after the draft could potentially be the reaction if Lonzo isn’t drafted by L.A.

That’s just not right.

Every player in the draft deserves some attention, too, not just those who demand it.

It’s time the media stops riding the hype train brought on by LaVar Ball and goes back to covering the rest of the players in the draft as well.

Who knows if the other players even want that much publicity, but still, it would be nice if every story you read on the draft isn’t about Lonzo and his egotistical father.

Jake Dreilinger is assistant sports editor of the Alligator. His column appears frequently on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Contact him at jdreilinger@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @DreilingerJake.

Former UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball (right) and his father, LaVar, shake hands after a game during the 2016-17 college basketball season.

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