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High school hoop star’s 92-point game ignites debate online and IRL

Ball drives on Los Osos.
Image: Louis Lopez/CSM/REX/Shutterstock

LaMelo Ball, a lanky high school sophomore from Southern California, scored 92 points in a high school basketball game. That is an absolutely astounding, astonishing, incredible and damn-near inconceivable amount of points for anyone to score in a basketball game much less coming from a high school sophomore.

But if only this story were quite that simple.

Ball is a 6-foot-2, 160-pound point guard for Chino Hills High School who’s ranked 16th nationally in class by ESPN.com. He took 61 shots in Tuesday’s 32-minute game against Los Osos High and made 37 of them. He shot a scintillating 30-39 from two-point range and a not-that-good 7-22 from three-point range, according to a box score posted online after the game.

Big, big numbers. But Los Osos coach Dave Smith sounded pissed after the game, and not just because his team got lit up for 92 points by one player in a 146-123 loss.

We’ll get to the controversy in just a sec, though. First, here are the highlights.

Smith called Ball’s performance a “joke” after the game, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Chino Hills players intentionally fouled Los Osos players to stop the clock when Los Osos was on offense and thus allowed Ball more time to add to his point total, Smith said, according to the Times. A closer look at the video also shows Ball frequently committing the major basketball party foul of cherrypicking that is, not bothering to get back on defense in order to catch a long pass off the rebound from a teammate for an easy layup.

“Thats wrong,” Smith said per the Times. “It goes against everything CIF [California Interscholastic Federation] stands for. The Ball boys are very talented and great players, but its embarrassing to high school athletics. Ive been coaching for 35 years, and weve turned high school athletics into individualism. Its amazing to watch a kid score that many points. But its tough to say thats what CIF athletics is about.”

Ball already had a high profile in the basketball world before his controversial 92-point outing. His older brother, LiAngelo, a senior at Chino Hills, scored 72 points in a game earlier this season. His oldest brother, Lonzo, is a freshman phenom at UCLA who’s projected to be among the top five picks in this June’s NBA Draft. Both LiAngelo and LaMelo have committed to play for UCLA in college as well.

Moreover, highlights of Chino Hills games are frequently posted to YouTube by BallIsLife and other mixtape outlets. Those videos have already been viewed millions upon millions of times this season. The upshot is Chino Hills is currently America’s most high-profile high school basketball team by far.

But Smith wasn’t the only one who found Ball’s 92 points or more accurately, the way he accumulated them suspect. Backlash also came online.

This edit, for example, shows what we’ll generously call a lax attitude toward defense or even running back down court to pretend to play defense.

Others critiqued as well.

NBA player Glenn Robinson III rated the performance three crying emoji.

Many called the way in which Ball racked up his points a “joke.” Even pornstar-turned-sports-columnist Mia Khalifa weighed in.

But maybe there’s a different explanation for all this?

Ball told ESPN after the game that his outburst was in honor of Chino Hills classmate Alexis Anderson, who’s currently hospitalized. For that reason, according to ESPN, teammates rallied to help him score more and more points. (A GoFundMe page set up to help Anderson’s family with medical costs has so far raised $28,000 toward a goal of $100,000 in four days. About 80 of 281 total donations had come after Ball’s game, a GoFundMe rep told Mashable.)

Backlash to Ball’s 92-point-game then spawned a counter-backlash (“He’s a kid!” “It’s 92 points!” “Stop hating!”) because the internet always eats its own tail, but we’ll leave it at that for now.

Here’s the upshot.

Anyway you slice it, 92 points in a high school game is damn impressive. Would the feat have been more impressive if it hadn’t come in such a gimmicky way? Of course. But LaMelo Ball still has two years of high school basketball left, then college hoops, then who-knows-what after that so rest assured this isn’t the last time he’ll become a topic of internet debate.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/02/08/lamelo-ball-92-points/