Guard LaMelo Ball was drafted by the Hornets with the No. 3 overall pick on Wednesday.
Ball, 19, heads to the NBA after spending the 2019-20 season with the Illawarra Hawks in the NBL Australia League. His season was cut short due to a bruised foot but he averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists in 12 games. He earned NBL Rookie of the Year honors.
In 2013, Ball initially verbally committed to play for UCLA but chose to bypass playing college basketball due to eligibility concerns. The Big Baller Brand released the Melo Ball 1, Ball's signature shoe, in 2017 and Ball later hired an agent to play professionally, ruling him ineligible.
Ball played for two years at Chino Hills High School before leaving to be homeschooled. His father, LaVar, did not approve of new coach Dennis Latimore working with his son. After LaMelo signed with an agent, he joined Prienai in the Lithuanian Basketball League to play alongside his brother, LiAngelo, in 2017.
Ball joined the Junior Basketball Association, a league created by LaVar, in 2018. Ball also played for the SPIRE Academy in Geneva, Ohio for his senior year of high school before signing a two-year contract, including NBA out clauses, with the Illawarra Hawks.
Ball's older brother, Lonzo, was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 2 overall pick in 2017.
Owner Michael Jordan reportedly gave a 'stamp of approval' for the Hornets to draft Ball, whose father once infamously claimed he could beat Jordan in a pickup game. It's the team's highest pick since 2012, and they have about $20 million left under the salary cap when free agency begins Friday.