LaVar Ball, the outspoken father of former UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, gave two reasons Thursday for why the Bruins were eliminated in the NCAA tournament: Lonzo was saddled by a hamstring injury, and some of his teammates, whom LaVar referred to as “three white guys,” couldn’t pick up the slack.
Lonzo Ball did not mention the injury after the Bruins’ Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky, and UCLA coach Steve Alford said he believed his player was fine.
LaVar Ball, who stayed in California to tend to his ailing wife instead of going to Memphis for the Sweet 16, told ESPN he feels “good” about Steve Alford remaining the coach at UCLA.
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“Realistically you can’t win no championship with three white guys because the foot speed is too slow,” LaVar Ball told the Southern California News Group, presumably talking about Bruins starters TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Thomas Welsh.
“I told Lonzo, ‘One of these games you might need to go for 30 or 40 points.’ It turned out that was the one game,” LaVar Ball added. “Then once they get to the Elite Eight, they’re right there.”
Lonzo Ball is a likely lottery pick in this summer’s NBA draft, with ESPN’s Chad Ford projecting him to go No. 2 overall in his latest mock draft. Ball has filed paperwork for the draft and has hired an agent after playing one season at UCLA.
He is a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award, which will be handed out Friday night in Los Angeles during ESPN’s College Basketball Awards show (ESPN2).
LaVar Ball’s middle son, LiAngelo, is set to play at UCLA next season. His youngest son, LaMelo, is committed to UCLA in the class of 2019.
Kentucky defeated UCLA 85-76 to advance to the South Region final, where it lost to eventual champion North Carolina.