Buying LaMelo Ball’s Illawarra Hawks Could Inspire Other Young Stars

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The 2020 NBA Draft will have a unique twist: one of their lottery picks will also have a pro basketball team.

LaMelo Ball and its manager, Jermaine Jackson, bought the Illawarra Hawks, a franchise of the National Basketball League in Australia, according to ESPN.

Ball, 18, played for the Hawks last season, averaging 17 points, seven assists and eight rebounds per game, before being named NBL rookie of the year. Ball’s connection to Australia goes beyond the purchase of the struggling financial franchise that had sparked interest from rival owner Sydney Kings. Three months ago, he donated one month of his NBL salary to victims of bush fires in Australia. Ball has also signaled his desire to return to the Land Down Under regularly during the NBA off season.

The youngest brother of the New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, LaMelo had a unique and well-traveled career. After playing two seasons at Chino Hills High School in California, Ball hired an agent and signed with Prienai-Birstonas Vytautas of the Lithuanian Basketball League. He then returned to the United States to sign with the Los Angeles Ballers of the Junior Basketball Association (led by Ball’s father LaVar Ball). Ball then joined high school basketball playing for SPIRE Institute, a private high school in Geneva, Ohio. After spending his senior season there, he moved to Australia with Jackson, his trainer at SPIRE.

Few American basketball players, let alone teenagers, can say they have played on five teams on three continents, particularly with a university team that is not one of them. Many players also can’t tell how they went from high school basketball to professional basketball, then back to high school basketball, and then onto professional hoops once again.



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