Basketball’s most talked about 17-year-old, LaMelo Ball, announced on ESPN’s The Jump this week that he will be heading to Australia to play for the Illawarra Hawks in the NBL.

The Wollongong-based team is located just shy of 60 miles away from Sydney, and will be looking to develop his talents ahead of him going to the NBA Draft next year. Lonzo Ball’s youngest brother has been in the spotlight of high school basketball ever since his Chino Hills high school games went viral on the internet, as all three Lonzo, LaMelo and their middle brother LiAngelo were on the same team.

LaVar Ball, the father of the three Ball brothers, pulled LaMelo out of Chino Hills to play in Lithuania as a 16-year-old. After playing in Lithuania’s professional league for around four months, LaMelo came back to the States to finish high school at the Spire Academy in Ohio. Former NBA Player Jermaine Jackson coached Ball at Spire, and will be going to Australia with him to help Ball develop into his desired No. 1 pick of the 2020 NBA Draft.

“My agents did a ton of research on the options I had to play this coming season, and Australia really made sense for me,” Ball said to ESPN. “They have a really strong league, with excellent coaches and great players, including former and future NBA players, and great strength and conditioning programs. My goal is to be the top pick in next year’s draft, and I feel they can help me reach that goal. Also, the timing of the season works well with the timing of next year’s draft.”


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The NBL has increased dramatically in talent over the last few months, with ESPN’s No. 5 prospect RJ Hampton declaring that he will be playing for the New Zealand Breakers for a year before the 2020 Draft, denying the option to play in the NCAA. LaMelo was expected to not play for the NCAA, as he has his own shoe brand and income that would be a violation of the NCAA rules.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have LaMelo coming to join the NBL this season,” NBL CEO Jeremy Loeliger said to ESPN. “I think it’s a real win-win situation for everyone involved. It gives him a fantastic opportunity to play against some hardened professionals, which I think will do wonders in terms of getting him ready for his rookie year in the NBA. He’ll get the chance to answer a lot of questions being asked by a lot of people — and everything I’ve seen makes me think he’s going to take a lot of them by surprise.”

Lonzo Ball was recently traded to the New Orleans Pelicans as a major asset for Anthony Davis. LaVar Ball was asked what he thought of as the Los Angeles Lakers traded away his son, and he was typical LaVar.

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