When Chino Hills captured the California Open Division state title, Lonzo Ball was quick to celebrate with his brothers and teammates. That he could do so without shielding his right hand was a near miracle in itself.
According to a report by Los Angeles Times reporter Eric Sondheimer, the newly-minted American Family Insurance ALL-USA Player of the Year competed for roughly a month of top-ranked Chino Hills’ undefeated, state title-winning season while battling through a dislocated middle finger on his right hand, which is his primary shooting hand. The injury was disclosed by Chino Hills head coach Steve Baik, who was named the ALL-USA Coach of the Year.
The revelation underscores just how versatile and dominant a season was put together by the eldest Ball brother. As noted by Baik, the elder Ball brother had just as large an impact even as his outside game became limited by his injury, which effected everything from his ability to catch a ball to fire up a shot from the perimeter.
“We thought this could be the end of the run,” Baik told the Times of Ball’s injury, which he suffered Feb. 9 in a game against Damien. “He couldn’t catch with the right hand and was trying to modify his shot. He finished the end of league with just his left hand.
“It just shows his versatility. He doesn’t have to score.”
Unlike his role in California, Ball has flown relatively under the radar during the lead-up to the McDonald’s All-American Game Wednesday night. That may not be the case come game time, with one of Ball’s final opportunities to dominate a game while still a high schooler before he heads to UCLA.