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Showdown in Vegas: LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson ball out in must-see game

A jammed late night crowd saw two of the best high school players go head-to-head


Las Vegas is famous for one-on-one sports contests, from Mike Tyson’s mid-fight snack to Anderson Silva’s horrific leg injury and perhaps even Floyd Mayweather’s 50th victory.

Wednesday night, one more event may have joined that list: the time AAU teams led by LaMelo Ball and Zion Williamson shared a court.

Williamson’s South Carolina Supreme edged Ball’s Big Baller Brand 104-92 at the Adidas Summer Championships in Sin City. Ball relied on his outside shot and playmaking ability en route to 31 points and five assists, while Williamson’s LeBron-ish one-man fast break was put on full display as he totaled 28 points.

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This was the must-see event of the summer in the recruiting world, and it almost ended before it began. Just before the 12:15 a.m. EST tipoff, local officials contemplated shutting down the game. The Cashman Center had oversold tickets, and the venue was overcrowded. Luckily, they decided against it.

The packed crowd was there to catch a glimpse of two of the best high school players in their respective classes. Even Damian Lillard, Andrew Wiggins and Bill Self stuck around for the final game of the day. At its peak, 77,000 fans tuned in to the livestream on BallisLife.com.

When the game finally began, it did not disappoint.

The handles were there.

The finishing was there.

And, of course, the dunks came in droves.

Ball’s lack of effort on the defensive end and questionable shot selection seemed to rub some fans the wrong way. And SC Supreme seemed to take their foot off the gas at various times throughout the game.

People often forget that LaMelo Ball, although he’s going into his junior year of high school, is only 15 and will grow both mentally and physically over the next two years.

Dismal free-throw shooting by Williamson, the No. 2 overall prospect in 2018, allowed Big Baller Brand to stay in the game. While the 17-year-old rising senior’s jump shot certainly needs improvement, going 6-of-19 from the free-throw line could be attributed to jitters, as he also missed a few easy dunks early in the game.

Elite talent or not, these are still high school kids. Anyone who expected more should have just gotten the extra rest. Those at Wednesday night’s game witnessed a piece of history.

C. Isaiah Smalls, II is a Rhoden Fellow and a graduate of Morehouse College from Lansing, Michigan. He studied Cinema, Television and Emerging Media Studies. He was Editor-in-Chief of The Maroon Tiger.