It’s been quite a wild last few days for the Ball family. Lonzo got traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, then their patriarch LaVar got into some hot water on ESPN on Monday. Now, the youngest member of the family, LaMelo Ball, is getting his moment in the spotlight.
In an interview with The Jump on ESPN, LaMelo Ball announced that he would be signing a deal with the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s NBL. The announcement comes one day after Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that a deal with the NBL was in the works.
The 17-year-old LaMelo was a five-star prospect in the Class of 2019, but spent 2018 with the Lithuania’s BC Prienai, the Los Angeles Ballers of the JBL, and at the SPIRE Institute.
LaMelo Ball just announced on The Jump that he is indeed signing with Australia's @NBL and will join the Illawarra Hawks on a "Next Stars" contract
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 17, 2019
During the interview, LaMelo reiterated that his goal was to be the top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. He stated that he feels the Illawarra Hawks can help him that goal.
“My goal is to be the top pick in next year’s Draft and I feel they can help me reach that goal,” Ball told ESPN.
LaMelo Ball has signed with the Illawarra Hawks of the Australian @NBL, he just announced on ESPN's the Jump. "My goal is to be the top pick in next year's Draft and I feel they can help me reach that goal," Ball told ESPN.
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 17, 2019
While the Ball family has made some head-scratching decisions in the past, LaMelo’s decision to play professional basketball in Australia is not a new concept.
Just last month, fellow five-star recruit R.J. Hampton opted to sign with the NBL rather than accept one of a myriad of NCAA scholarship offers.
There are certainly more traditional paths for LaMelo to take to the NBA than a year of pro basketball in Australia, but if he has the talent, the NBA might not put too much stock into where he spends the next year.