LaMelo Ball, Lonzo Ball's youngest brother, is heading back overseas to play professional basketball.
During an appearance on The Jump on Monday afternoon, Ball announced that he's signed a two-year deal with the Illawarra Hawks, a team in Australia's National Basketball League.
Ball's full announcement:
Next year I'm taking my talents to the NBL. I'm gonna play for the Illawarra Hawks. I just think it's the best route for me. I'm trying to be the No. 1 pick for the 2020 draft. I heard they got great strength and conditioning though, so off the court that will be good. Then on the court, pros have been through there, so I think it's all gonna help. It's just best for me, I think.
The 17-year-old was originally committed to UCLA to follow in the footsteps of his older brothers, but plans went awry for multiple reasons. His dad, LaVar Ball, was upset with the coaching staff at Chino Hills High School where LaMelo played, and then his older brother, LiAngelo, was arrested during UCLA's preseason trip to China. In the aftermath, LaVar arranged for both to play professionally in Lithuania.
That experiment didn't last long, and since then LaMelo has played in the fledgling Junior Basketball Association and at SPIRE Institute, a prep school in Ohio.
Having played professionally, and with the controversy surrounding his family, it was always unlikely that he would have been cleared to play in the NCAA. Thus, continuing his basketball journey on the professional level makes the most sense, and Australia is a wise choice. It's a warm, English speaking country, so he won't feel out of place in the same way he did in Lithuania, and will face solid competition that will help him prepare for the NBA.