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#pounditSaturday, April 17, 2021

Hornets coach admits he had character concerns about LaMelo Ball before draft

LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball has already come a long way in his rookie season, and that inclues winning over his head coach on the Charlotte Hornets.

Hornets coach James Borrego spoke with Sports Illustrated for a feature on Ball this week. During the interview, Borrego admitted to having character concerns and preconceived notions about the teenage star before the draft.

“It’s what you hear,” said Borrego, the fourth-year head coach. “It’s what you read. It’s what is on the Internet.”

Borrego did add though that Ball eased his concerns with a strong performance in his pre-draft interview with Charlotte.

“It felt real and genuine,” Borrego went on. “Whatever I got back in that interview to me was very honest and genuine. I felt like this was a more humble kid than I anticipated. It eased my concerns a little bit.”

Ball is now starting for the No. 8 seed Hornets and looks like the runaway leader for Rookie of the Year. He leads all first-year players in points (14.6), rebounds (6.2), assists (6.1), and steals per game (1.5). Whatever concerns existed several months ago about Ball’s supposed laziness, shot-chucking, and the potential meddling of father LaVar now seem way overblown.

Borrego is still tough on Ball whenever Ball plays poorly. But it sounds like he is convinced Ball is a long-term cornerstone for the Hornets franchise.

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