The LA Lakers used their number 2 overall draft pick Thursday to choose a guy whose last name makes him seem destined to be a world famous basketball star: Lonzo Ball. Lonzon is 19 and played only one season of college ball with the UCLA Bruins before declaring for the 2017 draft.
In high school, he was named national player of the year multiple times and achieved an undefeated record and a national championship. At UCLA he led college players nationally in the number of assists in addition to breaking UCLA’s record for number of assists in a single season.
The Lakers have fallen short of the playoffs four seasons in a row, the longest in franchise history, so it is understandable that the team had nothing but praise for their newest star. The most famous Laker and president of basketball operations for the team, Magic Johnson, had nothing but accolades and aspirational predictions when he introduced Ball at the Lakers’ practice facility. He called Ball “the new face of the Lakers,” predicting that he would lead the team “back to where we want to go.” He also said he expected Ball’s Laker jersey, Number 2, would join the other jerseys of retired Laker icons displayed on an honorary wall at the facility.
Johnson wasn’t done; he stated that Ball’s basketball IQ was “off the charts” which would make him an ideal leader for the team, adding that he believes Ball will enter this role organically because of his exhibited ability in the game.
Ball was pictured in a Dodger’s jersey at the draft announcement because he would appear later that day to throw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium in the game against the Colorado Rockies. Ball’s father, LaVar—who has been described as “outspoken”—also had high expectations for his son, stating that he would lead the Lakers to the playoffs in his first year on the team.
The team’s most recent record, 26-56, was the third worst in the NBA season.
Watch Magic Johnson officially select Lonzo Ball in the video below.