LaMelo Ball, one of the best US high school prospects and brother of NBA Guard Lonzo Ball, has signed a contract with the Illawarra Hawks in the Australian National Basketball League.
The 17-year-old Prep Standout announced its decision to ESPN, with the NBL confirming the step in a website posting.
Ball played in Lithuania in 2018 and probably finished his qualification for US college basketball, and he is only one year after his high school graduates qualified for the NBA.
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Lonzo Ball played for the Los Angeles Lakers in the last two seasons, having made him the number two pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, but he is among the players reportedly to be the New Orleans Pelicans in a trade deal for superstar Big Man Anthony Davis sent.
LaMelo Ball was ranked 21st of the 100 best ESPN players in the class by 2019 and is expected to be a first round NBA draft pick next year.
“Australia really made sense to me,” Ball said on ESPN. “They have a really strong league with excellent coaches and great players, including former and future NBA players.
“My goal is to be the top pick next year’s draft and I think they can help me achieve that goal.”
The nine-team NBL begins in October and ends in late March, giving Ball three months to show NBA scouts how they’ve developed Down Under before the NBA Draft 2020.
Also playing in the NBL will be ESPN’s fifth-placed contender for this year’s US high school talent R.J. Hampton, who will play ball for the New Zealand Breakers team next season.
“LaMelo is one of the most exciting and talked about young players in the basketball world and he will arouse tremendous interest wherever he goes as he plays here,” said NBL CEO Jeremy Loeliger in a posting on the league website.