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LaMelo Ball’s Australian basketball career ends at 12 games after foot injury

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SYDNEY — LaMelo Ball‘s bone bruise on his left foot is expected to keep him out of the Illawarra Hawks lineup for the remainder of the National Basketball League season in Australia.

The 18-year-old American, who joined Illawarra as part of the NBL’s Next Stars program, is expected to be a top-five pick in this year’s NBA draft.

Ball averaged 17 points, seven assists and seven rebounds in 12 games, however, he shot just 25 percent from three and 37.5 percent overall. He averaged 31 minutes of playing time a game for the last-place Hawks, but hasn’t played since sustaining the injury in early December. The regular season ends in mid-February.

The club said the point guard will continue his rehabilitation to include court-based activity under the care of the Hawks’ medical team.

“It’s important that he makes a return to full fitness ahead of the NBA draft and we will do everything we can to support that and his aim to become the No. 1 pick,” NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said Friday.

“LaMelo has enjoyed an excellent season and there is no doubt his draft prospects have been firmly enhanced by his time playing in the NBL.”

Ball helped draw big crowds, including a league-record 17,514 for the Hawks’ November game against the Sydney Kings in Sydney.

While his shooting percentage wasn’t great in his first few games, Ball got better as the season progressed. He took on extra responsibilities after former NBA guard Aaron Brooks left the club with a torn Achilles tendon in late October.

Ball became the first player in the 40-minute NBL era to record a triple-double in consecutive games, in what turned out to be his last two appearances for the Hawks.

Ball had 32 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in his second-last game against Cairns, in the process becoming the youngest player in NBL history to achieve a triple-double.

He followed up with another strong performance in his last game, scoring 25 points, taking 12 rebounds and making 10 assists against the New Zealand Breakers.

He recently donated a month of his salary, which was not disclosed, to a national relief fund in aid of wildfire victims in Australia.

Colorado junior forward Tyler Bey declares for NBA Draft

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University of Colorado forward Tyler Bey has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The junior averaged 13.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the Buffaloes. Bey shot 53% from the field overall and 74.3% at the free throw line.

Bey also extended his range a bit in his third year at Colorado. He knocked down 13-of-31 three-pointers (41.9%) on the season. At just six-foot-seven, he’ll need to be able to score from behind the arc to find a place in the NBA.

Most draft analysts have Bey pegged as an early second-round pick. Some thought he could play his way into the back-end of the first-round with strong pre-draft workouts. With the pre-draft process up in the air, NBA front offices may have to make their decisions based on what they’ve already seen in person and on tape.

Stephon Marbury has arrangement to procure 10 million medical masks for New York

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Former NBA player Stephon Marbury told The New York Post that he’s arranged a deal to deliver 10 million N95 medical masks to New York. These masks are much-needed among healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marbury is having the masks produced at cost in China, where he played the last seven years of his career.

Although Marbury currently lives in Beijing, China, he said “At the end of the day, I am from Brooklyn. This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York.”

While growing up, Marbury starred at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn and on New York City’s famed playgrounds. After one year at Georgia Tech, Marbury left for the NBA. The high-scoring guard played for five teams during his 13-year NBA career, including his hometown New York Knicks.

After sitting out for two seasons, Marbury signed to play for the Beijing Ducks in 2011. The move was initially seen as a way for Marbury to prove he could still play at an NBA level. Instead, Beijing became home-away-from home for the New Yorker.

Marbury averaged 21.6 points per game in 271 contests spread over seven seasons with the Ducks.

Georgetown sophomore Mac McClung declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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Georgetown sophomore Mac McClung told ESPN Jonathan Givony that he’s declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.

McClung first came to national prominence when his high school highlights blew up on YouTube:

In his second season at Georgetown, McClung averaged 15.7 points and 1.4 steals per game. A foot injury in late-January kept McClung out of the lineup for nearly a month. He returned for one game in late-February, but played just eight minutes off the Hoyas’ bench.

The six-foot-two guard is known for his deep shooting range and his highlight dunks. McClung’s shot is inconsistent however, as he shot under 40% in each of his first two seasons at Georgetown. McClung’s defense also needs work.

McClung projects to be a point guard in the NBA, due to his size. To make it as a lead guard, he’ll need to work on his ballhandling and playmaking. With those question marks, McClung is seen as a stretch to be drafted in the second round.

McClung stated he’s signing with an NBA/NCAA approved agent. That will allow him to keep his college eligibility as he goes through the pre-draft process.

Report: NBA Together asks players who have recovered from COVID-19 to consider donating plasma

Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert
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Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the NBA Together initiative is asking NBA players who have recovered from coronavirus to consider donating plasma:

NBA Together was created in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, as the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season.

One of the efforts NBA Together is supporting is the COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project. This project has brought together top medical specialists to determine if plasma donations could help in treating coronavirus.

Several NBA players have tested positive for COVID-19. This group includes Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets, Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics and Christian Wood of the Detroit Pistons. All players reported either feeling no symptoms or have recovered from the affliction.