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LiAngelo Ball says playing overseas prepared him ‘better’ for the NBA than playing at UCLA would have

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LiAngelo Ball getting suspended at UCLA ultimately resulted in him leaving school to play professionally in Lithuania, but at his pre-draft workout with the Lakers, Ball said that everything worked out for the best.

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Los Angeles Lakers 2018 NBA Draft Workout Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

When LiAngelo Ball — the brother of Lonzo Ball who has played for UCLA and Lithuanian professional team BC Vytautas over the last year — worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, there were a few questions he was all-but-guaranteed to face from an eager horde of media.

Is he afraid of his father, the perpetually outspoken LaVar Ball, hurting his draft stock? And does he feel like he is as prepared as other college prospects, given that he left UCLA midstream to play over in Lithuania?

His answer to the first question was a pretty emphatic no, and the answer to the latter is that LiAngelo felt that going overseas was far from a hinderance. In fact, he made it sound like leaving UCLA for Lithuania might have been a blessing in disguise.

”I think it prepared me a little better, as far as going against grown men that care about their job every day. Because if you’re not producing out there, they’ll fire you quick. Every game is hard out there,” LiAngelo said (via the Lakers’ Twitter account). “It was a big change, but I adapted and got better from the experience. It was good for me.”

LiAngelo cited the “more pro style” of offense they play overseas as one way the experience helped him, especially with both setting and coming off of screens.

”In college, you do a little bit of that but they don’t focus too much on it,” LiAngelo said.

He also said that he had developed “a better feel for the game” in Lithuania, and that all of the knowledge he’s gained left him with little regrets over how things ended at UCLA, something he also claimed to not recall.

”I don’t really remember too much about that,” LiAngelo said. “That’s a closed chapter in my life. So I just moved on, went overseas, and just learned. Learned from over there and then brought my talents back home.”

As a reminder on how LiAngelo’s time at UCLA came to a close, he and two other UCLA players were suspended indefinitely after being arrested for shoplifting on a preseason trip to China.

While that incident probably didn’t do wonders for his reportedly basically nonexistent draft chances, LiAngelo still felt that the learning experience made him more ready to play professional basketball, wherever he ends up next.

”Just being more mature,” Ball said when asked what he learned from the last year. “Coming in, doing what you have to do, don’t worry about outside stuff. Just more focus around the game. That’s what I picked up most.”

All quotes transcribed via the Lakers’ Twitter account. All stats per sports-reference.com. A full list of every prospect we know the Lakers have worked out is available here. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen, or support his work via Venmo here or Patreon here.