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- After returning home from a brief stint as a professional basketball player in Lithuania and playing in his father’s JBA league for the summer, LaMelo Ball decided to return to high school and enrolled at Spire Institute in Ohio.
- At his first press conference since arriving at his new school, Ball spoke of his intentions to play college basketball at one of the top Division I programs in the country.
- Aside from the obvious issues of whether or not those schools have an interest in recruiting him or taking on his outspoken father, LaVar Ball, LaMelo Ball would have to clear some very significant hurdles before securing his eligibility to play in the NCAA.
LaMelo Ball has had a whirlwind year.
After brother LiAngelo was arrested for shoplifting in China and subsequently suspended from the UCLA basketball team, the two youngest Ball brothers took their talents to Europe and spent three months playing professional basketball in Lithuania. LaMelo returned stateside over the summer and began playing in his father’s newly-created JBA league, and now he has announced he will return to high school and play basketball at Spire Institute in Ohio.
At his first press conference since arriving at his new school, Ball spoke of his intentions to play college basketball at one of the top Division I programs in the country.
LaMelo Ball said he hopes to play college basketball at a top school. Mentioned North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State.
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) November 9, 2018
Aside from the obvious issues of whether or not those schools have an interest in recruiting him or taking on his outspoken father, LaVar, the youngest Ball brother would have to clear some very significant hurdles before securing his eligibility to play in the NCAA.
In order to play college sports, the NCAA requires athletes to prove their status as amateur athletes. This essentially means that student-athletes cannot accept monetary compensation for their abilities or their likeness.
The NCAA provides a checklist of activities that could impact one’s amateur status:
- Signing a contract with a professional team
- Playing with professionals
- Participating in tryouts or practices with a professional team
- Accepting payments or preferential benefits for playing sports
- Accepting prize money above your expenses
- Accepting benefits from an agent or prospective agent
- Agreeing to be represented by an agent
- Delaying your full-time college enrollment to play in organized sports competitions
It certainly looks as though Ball may have trouble convincing the NCAA of his amateur status based on a number of those requirements. But Spire’s associate academy director Justin Brantley told ESPN’s Jeff Borzello that Ball preserved his eligibility because he was not compensated and never received payment for playing in Lithuania or in the JBA. And even though Ball signed with agent Harrison Gaines before playing overseas, the NCAA recently relaxed its rules prohibiting “elite” high school prospects from signing with agents.
It's not about the money for the Ball Brothers. They have a passion to play Basketball and to experience playing as pros was the Goal. They have accomplished this mission and are excited to be playing on the same team to top it off. The Big Baller way! pic.twitter.com/QOu6QCtMdf
— Big Baller Brand (@bigballerbrand) December 12, 2017
Perhaps the most concerning piece of evidence working against Ball is his Big Baller Brand shoes. Regardless of whether or not Ball has actually received any compensation for his affiliation with the brand, there is little doubt that he has used his likeness to promote the “Melo Ball 1s” shoe model that was named on his behalf.
— Big Baller Brand (@bigballerbrand) August 31, 2017
LaMelo also appears to be living a lavish lifestyle.
Surely more information regarding Ball’s future plans and NCAA eligibility will be revealed over the next few months. Regardless, enrolling at Spire Institute, where he will compete against some of the country’s top high school and prep competition in teams like La Lumiere and Oak Hill, allows Ball to build a legitimate portfolio and prove he has what it takes to play at the next level – wherever that may be.