The one year Lonzo Ball played for UCLA apparently qualifies him to opine on the future of its basketball team.
The Los Angeles Lakers point guard on Wednesday publicly urged UCLA to hire Earl Watson as head coach of its men’s basketball team. Ball told reporters Watson’s connection to the school and his experience as an NBA coach makes him the standout candidate for the vacant position.
“I know Earl personally,” Ball said told reporters, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I think he has coaching experience in the league. Obviously he went there, he’s alumni, so I think he’s a good fit.”
Watson played for UCLA between 1997 and 2001 before embarking on a 13-year NBA career. He joined the Phoenix Suns’ coaching staff in 2015 and was promoted to head coach in February 2016. However, his tenure on the Suns’ bench lasted just under two years, as the Suns fired him early last season.
Ball came to know Watson during the latter’s regular visits to Westwood, and that personal touch won Ball’s backing for the race for the UCLA job.
“I know he’s in the practice facility all the time in the summer working with guys and helping teams out,” Ball said. “I just know him personally off the court. He’s helped me with a few things off the court business-wise. I think he’s a good person for the job.”
UCLA fired Steve Alford on Monday, and Murry Bartow now is in charge on an interim basis. The Bruins probably haven’t sought Ball’s opinion on who should be their next coach yet.