After a bizarre decision to leave UCLA to play professionally in Lithuania, it may be time for LiAngelo Ball to face reality and take a more logical approach to success in professional sports.
A former Wisconsin guard called the family’s choice to play in Lithuania "the worst possible play" they could have made.
The middle Ball brother was never considered a serious NBA prospect by basketball insiders, and that was before his China mishap. Even Ball's father LaVar acknowledged that LiAngelo may not have a career as a professional basketball player and would be best suited for modeling.
If LiAngelo wants to have a chance in professional sports, he might want to take a look at football, not basketball.
A Pivot To The NFL?
Compared to LaMelo and Lonzo, LiAngelo is built much differently. At nearly 220 pounds, the 6-foot-5 power forward plays with more force than finesse, unlike his brothers.
His size and skill set are reminiscent of other notable college basketball players Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez, who transitioned to the NFL and had Hall of Fame-caliber careers.
While a transition to football would still be three years away for LiAngelo given the NFL’s rules on when a player can enter the league, one sports agent said it's not out of the question.
“You see basketball players mostly turn into tight ends; it's not out of the realm of possibilities. You see basketball build types of athletes transition their skills, particularly to the tight end position,” sports agent Darren Heitner told Benzinga.
Grassroots basketball insiders agree the scenario isn't that far-fetched.
“He could easily get a tryout and I think he could contribute to an NFL team. Like a great business, LiAngelo needs a career pivot and this one is an obvious choice,” said Brian Hershman, Founder of Indihoops.com. (Disclosure: Hershman is the brother of the author.)
“There is not one pro team but two in LA now. I think he could be a successful NFL tight end and I think he could contribute on the field.There is a precedent for it and it would be great for their brand [to] penetrate another professional sport.”
'Their Chances Are Much Higher In The NFL Than The NBA'
Certainly, Lavar wouldn’t also mind working his way into the conversation of another professional league. As a former practice squad member with the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers in the 1990s, the eldest Ball is no stranger to the sport.
“There are many kids that aspire to play basketball, especially if they play multiple sports growing up, but their chances are much higher in the NFL than the NBA. There is more opportunity off sheer numbers,” said Ronnie Flores, editor of Ballislife.com.
“I think his chances to start an NFL game right now are about the same as the NBA. In order to get drafted in basketball you need to get regularly exposed to other people that are going to get drafted, and right now that route is college,” said Flores.
LiAngelo Ball has given up the college basketball path, but if overseas basketball does not pan out — and Lavar's new JBA league doesnt end up going as planned — many observers would not be surprised to see the middle Ball brother pick up a football instead.
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