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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Lincoln Ball gives the Eagles leadership and versatility during his senior season

Ball has been a vocal leader and a well-rounded player for the Eagles

While scoring might be the most exciting aspect of basketball, it is not the only factor that leads to a win. American University senior Lincoln Ball embodies this mentality. The 6’6” forward has embraced his role as a leader who can impact the game in many ways outside of scoring.

This season, Ball, who alternates between small and power forward, averaged 4.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. The forward also boasts a respectable assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.4. As a senior, Ball has embraced the many responsibilities that the team has given him.

“I want to do all the things that need to be done to win or put the team in the best position to win,” Ball said.  “And I truly believe that that's what coach Simpkins and the staff and my team have asked me to do this year and it's been super challenging, but it's so rewarding.”

Ball, a Business Administration major, played high school basketball at Williamsport High School in Williamsport, Maryland. During his senior season, he averaged close to a double-double with 16.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Ball has been a versatile player since high school, having also averaged 4.4 assists during his senior season then. The well-rounded forward was named the 2020 Washington County Athletic Association Player of the Year by the Herald-Mail

Ball was also a skilled football player for Williamsport. During his junior season, he received all-conference honors as the school’s starting quarterback. Ball committed to play basketball for George Washington University in 2019, during his junior year. He stopped playing football during his senior season so he could focus on basketball.

Outside of his high school basketball and football seasons, Ball played Amateur Athletic Union basketball with Mid Atlantic Select, alongside current American teammate and senior forward, Matt Rogers. As a Mid Atlantic Select player, Ball got exposure and made memories while playing on the Under Armour Rise circuit with Rogers. Ball and Rogers have been friends since middle school, and they have enjoyed playing and traveling together like they did in their AAU days.

“Now that we're here in D.C. and AU, we have spent so much more time together, off the court. It's been really nice,” Ball said. “He's my brother and I really care about our relationship a lot. He's always been a great friend.” 

Ball's stellar play for Mid Atlantic Select led to interest from George Washington University and, ultimately, his commitment to the school. When choosing a school, Ball was fond of the idea of living in the nation’s capital.

“I really love D.C. a lot. I love the city and GW is a great school. And I thought that that it was the path I was supposed to go on because it got me to where I am today,” Ball said.

During the 2020-2021 season, many NCAA basketball teams had shorter seasons as result of the COVID-19 pandemic. George Washington was no different, and Ball had to deal with game cancellations and COVID-19 safety protocols as a freshman.

“There were times where we were weeks away from the team because of COVID. That year was just really different and challenging,” Ball said.

At GW, Ball saw the floor as a freshman, averaging 1.1 points in 14.3 minutes per game during the 2020-2021 season. Ball entered the NCAA transfer portal in 2021 after his freshman season and soon connected with former AU assistant coach Eddie Jackson. Jackson was part of former head coach Mike Brennan's coaching staff until May 2023, when Brennan parted ways with the program. Ball said that Jackson had previously recruited him in high school and later played a role in getting him to AU.

At AU, Ball has gained a reputation as a high level rebounder who can pass the ball and defend. He had 11 rebounds in a Nov. 29 game against Harvard University and 15 rebounds in a Feb. 3 game against Bucknell University. Ball can also score when needed, scoring in double digits five times this season.

First year assistant coach Isaiah “Ike” Tate and the team have taken advantage of Ball’s offensive and defensive versatility. 

“Sometimes he'll bring the ball up and initiate offense. He's just really like a good Swiss army knife of a player, a utility piece,” Tate said. “He can get in the paint and score, he can drive, he’s capable of hitting shots when he has it going. He is definitely an offensive rebounding threat and a big defensive rebounder for us. He's pretty much a utility, all around guy for us.” 

Ball credits his great rebounding to learning where the ball will go after an opponent misses. Ball also feels that the team's approach to rebounding has helped him as a rebounder.

“We say this a lot on our team, ‘the basketball rewards the hardest working player,’” Ball said. “So, if you're out there working your tail off, the ball is destined to come to you and you're going to be putting yourself in the best position to go get the rebound as well.”

Ball has also embraced a leadership role. The senior appreciates the trust that new head coach Duane Simpkins and his teammates have had in him.

“There's no better feeling than when you got 16 other guys that fully trust you, want to listen to you and respect you,” Ball said. “It's been so rewarding this year, being in that leadership role.”

This past season, Ball said that he was proud of the way that he and his teammates had persevered through injuries and tough losses. Ball will be returning to the team next season for his fifth year of college basketball. As a soon-to-be graduate student, Ball is still figuring out his post-college basketball plans. The Kogod School of Business student said that he won't rule out a basketball-related job.

“I think that I would love to stay connected to the sports world,” Ball said. “Sports is a big part of my life and something that I truly love. And I think when you love something, you try and stick around as long as you can.”

This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks, Isabelle Kravis and Ariana Kavoossi.

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