Lonzo Ball and Team Inland Empire stole the show this past Sunday in an 86-68 win over Team L.A. in Jordan Brand’s first annual Kings of Southern California Showcase at the Jordan Hangar in Los Angeles.
Ball, the No. 16-ranked player in the Class of 2016 who committed to UCLA, showed his versatility on both ends of the floor and made big plays to give his team the advantage down the stretch. Ball’s younger brother, LiAngelo, and SDSU commit Jeremy Hemsley, were also key contributors in IE’s victory.
“It feels great to come out here and represent the IE. It was a great win, and it feels good,” Ball said. “I came out here with three other teams, and I just wanted to make sure everybody knew IE was the best.”
The top high school basketball players of the four main counties in Southern California—Los Angeles, Orange, Inland Empire and the Valley—battled it out on the hardwood in a two-game single elimination-style tournament to see which area produced the best hoopers.
According to Jordan Brand, there’s always been a rivalry for some time between L.A. and the Inland Empire, and although the Inland Empire produces a lot of talent, oftentimes most of the areas are overshadowed and don’t get the respect Los Angeles does—basketball wise. So what better way to put a showcase together that gives the kids the opportunity to compete for bragging rights of which county produces the best talent?
After the championship game, IE native and NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard stopped by the Hangar and congratulated the team as they entered the locker room and took pictures with the champs.
The Kings of Southern California Showcase will be an annual event before the start of the high school season and will feature more counties from Northern and Southern California in future events, per Jordan Brand.
Photos via Cassy Athena