The high school senior has been ranked a five-star recruit, but his future is very much in the air because of questions about his NCAA eligibility. Still, Ball will play somewhere next year before presumably trying to make the leap to the NBA, and he posted on Instagram on Saturday that a decision could be coming soon.
According to a report from the New York Times’ Marc Stein, Ball could be headed down under to play next season. Australia's National Basketball League is attempting to give top prospects an alternative to the NCAA before leaping to the NBA. Think Brandon Jennings playing in Italy as a 19-year-old.
The NBL launched its “Next Stars” program last year, and is already seeing it pay dividends. Rivals’ No. 6 overall recruit R.J. Hampton already eschewed college to play in New Zealand, and Ball could be the next big fish it lands. Earlier this month, the league confirmed its interest in Ball to Yahoo Sports.
Playing abroad seems likely for Ball, since his time playing in Lithuania and having a signature shoe line likely keeps him from being considered an amateur. Ball’s father, LaVar, also signaled that LaMelo’s main two targets are to play in China or Australia.
Stein noted that the Illawarra Hawks have been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Ball, although Next Stars contracts are negotiated with the NBL, which places players with teams, rather than Ball forcing his way onto a specific franchise.
Wherever Ball ends up, he’s certain to draw a crowd if his father doesn’t already. While playing with Chino Hills High School, Ball scored 92 points in a single game, and it’s hard to imagine he’ll be a benchwarmer for his single year abroad.
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