LaVar Ball wears many hats, and not all of them come with a “Big Baller Brand” logo imprinted on the front.
Before he accompanied his sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, to Lithuania, before he was dishing out true-to-form pregame speeches as the coach of his sons’ team, LaVar Ball created the Big Ballers AAU basketball team.
While his attention to his own sons is well-documented, LaVar Ball is a mentor to many other southern Calif. hoops hopefuls. Last summer, Overtime got behind the scenes with the youngest players on the Big Ballers AAU team, talking to them about what it’s like to be on the team and to play for LaVar.
“Pretty much every day is a tryout back there,” Big Ballers freshman Ashton Franklin says in the video. “He tests us out, he looks at our skills. He sees what’s developing in our game.”
“Playing for Big Ballers is a lot faster than what I’ve been doing at 14 and younger,” says freshman Christian Cavanias. “It’s a lot faster, a lot more physical. You’ve got to be a lot tougher mentally. Plus, when LaVar’s coaching, he’s completely yapping at you the whole time. He’s been pushing me like that for about three years now. It’s hard, working out every morning. But you get used to it.”
“During practices, LaVar’s actually really chill,” says Brandon Trajano. “He’s not like screaming at us or anything.”
“He’s tough, but he tells us all the time to listen to what he says and not the way he says it,” says Noah Yarbrough.
As he is inclined to do, LaVar shares plenty of his own thoughts as well. Among the great soundbites from LaVar:
“Not all the players are going to make it to the NBA. You get one in a blue moon, but my thing is this: I’d rather have one team with 13 players that start off young, and every one of them get a scholarship somewhere. I’m not trying to have 12 teams, and whoever makes it, that’s my guy.
“In the long run, my guys are going to do better. Because if you can play for me, screaming at you, getting on you for little bitty things, you can play for anybody, because the expectation level for playing for me is way higher than these normal coaches. So after three or four years go by, they should be good. So now the totem pole balances out, now you’re on top. Right now it’s like this, you’re at the bottom coming up. But when it’s their time to shine, when they’re seniors and juniors, they’re going to be like, ‘Man, I’ve been playing against this since I was a baby. Now I’m ready for it.’
“In 10 or 15 years, man, I just want my players to come back to me and say, ‘Lavar, I’ve got a family now, I’m doing good, I’m at school.’ Where, you’re just having a good life. You ain’t gotta be the richest person in the world, but as long as you’re having a good life, and you had the opportunity to play ball for a small amount of time, that’s all I care about.”
The nearly five-minute video also gives a peek into one of the famous Big Ballers backyard training sessions.
Check it out here, from Overtime: