By Matt Citak
It was a chaotic scene in Las Vegas on Wednesday, as officials and police officers were forced to block the doors and create a police barricade outside the Cashman Center due to fire-code concerns an hour before tip-off of the Adidas Uprising Summer Championships. AAU basketball games do not normally garner that big of a crowd, but then again, a battle between two of the country’s most promising and electrifying recruits does not come around too often.
LaVar Ball’s Big Ballers team, led by his son and elite 2019 recruit LaMelo Ball, was set to take on top 2018 recruit Zion Williamson and SC Supreme.
But the epic showdown between the two was almost cancelled. Fans were standing six and seven rows deep hours before the two top recruits were supposed to play. There were dozens of others outside waiting to get in the Cashman Center when officers and event officials closed the doors and banned anyone else from entering the building.
In fact Chris Rivers, the organizer of the tournament, said that local police did not officially give the green light for the game to go on until one minute before tip-off.
Kansas head coach Bill Self, who was at the game, told ESPN he had “never seen anything like it.”
In addition to Self and all of the reporters, NBA players Damian Lillard, Thon Maker, Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins, and of course LaMelo’s oldest brother, Lonzo Ball, were all there to watch the youngest Ball face off against Williamson.
LeBron James was supposed to be sitting courtside for the game, but after arriving at the stadium and talking to people associated with the tournament, decided to stay in his vehicle, not wanting to add to the craziness.
As for the game itself, Williamson and SC Supreme went on to defeat Ball and the Big Ballers by a score of 102-94. According to the Adidas Uprising website, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Williamson finished the contest with 31 points and nine rebounds, and shot 75 percent (12-for-16) from the field. Not to be outdone, Ball scored 36 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dished out five assists, but had only a 37 percent (10-for-27) field goal percentage.
Following the conclusion of the game, LaVar Ball said he was not surprised about the large crowd, and that it should be anticipated whenever the Big Baller Brand is involved.
“They’re gonna have to get a bigger venue,” he said. “When the Big Baller Brand come to town, better get something big.”
Williamson, ranked by ESPN and Rivals.com as the number two recruit in the Class of 2018, currently has offers from most of the country’s top programs but has yet to commit anywhere. Ball, who committed to UCLA two years ago, comes in at number eight in ESPN’s rankings and number 18 in Rivals.com’s rankings of the Class of 2019.