LaMelo Ball to play in Australia before likely entering NBA Draft

Alius Koroliovas  Getty Images

Alius Koroliovas Getty Images

LaMelo Ball announced he is joining the Illawarra Hawks of the Australian National Basketball League during an appearance on ESPN's The Jump on Monday.

Ball will join highly-touted prospect RJ Hampton in the NBL. R.J. Hampton, who was rated as the fifth-best overall prospect in ESPN's Top 100, made a decision to forgo offers from Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Memphis and sign with the New Zealand Breakers.

According to ESPN, Ball agreed to a two-year deal with the Hawks. The 6-foot-7 point guard played professionally for Vytautas Prienu in Lithuania during the 2017-18 season.

Ball concluded his high-school basketball career last season with SPIRE Prep Academy.

"I just think it is the best route for me". His dad, LaVar Ball, was upset with the coaching staff at Chino Hills High School where LaMelo played, and then his older brother, LiAngelo, was arrested during UCLA's preseason trip to China. With college, I already knew what they were about to do.

Ball, the younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, likely would not have been eligible to play collegiately because of his professional experience in Lithuania before returning to high school, as well as a shoe deal with the family's Big Baller Brand.

"The NBL is a really solid league, with great coaches and players, and I am looking forward to putting all my focus and energy into basketball and getting to work".

"We couldn't be more excited to have LaMelo coming to join the NBL this season", NBL CEO Jeremy Loeliger told ESPN. "It's just best for me, I think".

American teenager LaMelo Ball has signed with the Illawarra Hawks for the upcoming National Basketball League season, the second top USA prospect to join the Australian league under its Next Stars Program.

Ball has impressed this summer with his performances at the Drew League, a pro-am summer tournament that draws some of the best talent from Los Angeles but is played at all-star-style pace. I'm not going to let no 28, 29-year-old dudes tee off on him.

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