LaMelo Ball loving life at Illawarra

He's got all the swagger of a future NBA star but LaMelo Ball has brought something even more important to the Illawarra Hawks.

Ball's arrival at the Hawks has sparked significant interest in the NBL from fans in the US.

The 18-year-old's hot showing at the NBL's pre-season Blitz has led some US experts to predict the star guard will be taken in the top three of next year's NBA draft.



Barring injury or some other unforeseen circumstance, Ball appears destined for NBA stardom.

But Illawarra Hawks coach Matt Flinn can't wait to see what Ball produces in the NBL first, and he likes what he sees so far.

"We don't see any ego with him," Flinn said.

"Obviously he's got a lot of confidence and swagger.

"He's certainly got a lot of belief in his ability, but it's definitely not ego. He certainly buys in."

Importantly, Ball is enjoying his time in Australia.

That spells good news for Flinn, who knows happiness often translates into results.

"The first thing you notice about LaMelo when he comes into the group is how much he loves playing the game and how much he loves his teammates," Flinn said.

"One of our values here is joy and he certainly epitomises that for the game.

"He's much loved by his teammates too.

"Some of the feedback we've got from the NBA scouts is that they've never seen him so happy.

"It's well documented we're not the richest club in the league.

"But if wealth was measured in spirit, we would be the richest club in the league, and that shows with LaMelo's attitude and his enthusiasm and how happy he is playing the game at the moment."

Melbourne United is the early favourite for this season's title, while the Sydney Kings and Perth Wildcats also boast star-studded squads.

But the Hawks, featuring Ball, Aaron Brooks, Josh Boone, Andrew Ogilvy, Todd Blanchfield and David Andersen, loom as a championship smokey.

There are no guarantees that Ball will see out the full season with the Hawks, so a hot start to the campaign is crucial.

Flinn feels his side has the potential to go deep if they can improve on the defensive end and be aggressive on the boards.

"We certainly want to make the playoffs," Flinn said.

"And then from there we want to win a championship.

"No one goes in to this competition saying we only want to come fourth or third. Of course we want to win it."

Illawarra's season tips off at home against the Brisbane Bullets on Sunday.

AAP

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