LaMelo Ball is expected to go quite high in the 2020 NBA Draft, whenever that ends up happening. While his path to the league is about as unconventional as they come — he went from a high school powerhouse in California, to a pro team in Lithuania, to a school in Ohio, to his most recent stop in Australia’s National Basketball League — there is no denying his mix of talent and upside.
But before Ball leaves Australia, the 6’6 guard has one final piece of business he wants to get out of the way. According to ESPN, Ball and his manager, Jermaine Jackson, have decided to purchase his NBL squad, the Illawarra Hawks. Jackson explained that Ball grew fond of the fans and the community, which “opened their arms to him” when he joined the franchise last June. Now, with the Hawks in a bit of a financial bind, he wants to reciprocate that love.
“He is going to be locked into his NBA career, but we are going to hire the right people to oversee everything,” Jackson told ESPN. “He wants to create the best basketball program possible for that community there.”
Jackson mentioned that he’s had conversation with “several former NBA GMs” and “high-level coaches that won every championship you can imagine” about potentially being part of this project, and also said that while Ball is going to be focused on his NBA career during the season, he wants to get down to Australia during the offseason to help grown the game down under.
“When Melo wants to do stuff in the summertime, we’ll be there,” Jackson said. “We’ll take a tour with his family all over Australia, doing basketball camps and connecting with the youth. He wants to inspire the next generation.”
We’ll have to wait and see how this arrangement works in the long run and if there’s any red tape that needs to be cut through. It’s a major undertaking and quite the move for an 18 year old who isn’t officially in the NBA yet, but it is evident that making sure the club is a financially viable place is really important to Ball.