LaMelo Ball is the youngest Ball brother, and now, at just 16 years old, he is the first high school player to have his own signature shoe. And, surely, the NCAA will have something to say about this, which, of course, must trouble the outlandish patriarch of the Ball clan. Doesn’t it?
“We’ll worry about it when we get there,” dad LaVar Ball told ESPN concerning whether his son will be able to play in the NCAA. “Who cares? If he can’t play, then he can’t play. It doesn’t mean he’ll stop working out and getting better.”
And, thus, you have LaVar Ball in a nutshell. Since bursting onto the scene, father Ball has been nothing if not a magnet for controversy, and his attitude has been so brash that it led him to a damn WWE appearance.
While I admire Ball’s moxie and marketing strategy (since part of this villainous persona, I think, is really just grassroots marketing at its finest), I question this latest move. LaMelo, for all his high school talent, is not his brother Lonzo, the Los Angeles Lakers first-round draft pick. For all the court vision that led Lonzo to being a one-and-done college player, I think LaMelo could benefit from a couple of years in college. But that might be in jeopardy now that he’s got his own signature shoe and some sort of commercial—since I don’t really know what this is that Slam magazine posted to Twitter:
The NCAA didn’t return ESPN’s request for comment, probably because its officials don’t even know what to say. The NCAA has never seen a beast like LaVar Ball, and let this sink in: A 16-year-old high school junior has his own shoe—the MB1—which became available Thursday for preorder through Big Baller Brand’s website for $395, $100 less than his brother Lonzo’s sneaker, which debuted at $495, ESPN reports.
While LaMelo, who still attends Chino Hill High School in California, has already committed to UCLA, the school where his brother Lonzo played his freshman year before declaring for the NBA draft, and where his middle brother, LiAngelo “Gelo” Ball, has just started his freshman year, ESPN notes that LaMelo is not under NCAA rules until he signs a letter of intent.
“Maybe in two years, they’ll change the rule, and he’ll be able to go to the NBA straight out of high school,” LaVar Ball said.
LaVar Ball added that because Gelo is already at UCLA, he can’t endorse Big Baller Brand until he leaves.
“Gelo will be next, but right now, he’s handcuffed by UCLA,” LaVar Ball told ESPN. “He’d be ineligible if we put out a shoe with him.”
LaVar Ball has already noted that all of his sons will only play a year of college ball before heading to the NBA, so he plans to put Gelo in BBB once his freshman year is done.
“He won’t be ineligible in April,” he said of Gelo. “That’s when he’ll have his own shoe.”
Let’s be clear about this: If Lonzo is the Beyoncé of this group, then LaMelo is the Kelly Rowland, and by default, Gelo is the other rotating third member whose name no one remembers.
That sucks because it doesn’t mean that Gelo couldn’t turn out to be a decent player, but he won’t be a high-round draft pick like his older brother; nor is he the anomaly his younger brother is.
He’s a solid basketball player who won’t wow you over with anything fantastic, but he does the little things, like rebound and make solid decisions well. His father will be hurting his career by taking him out of college early, but he will learn that the hard way.
LaVar Ball knows what’s best for his family. He’s already done a good job of getting them this far, and when Jay-Z is buying your shoes and talking about your hustle, then maybe you’re doing something right.
Not to mention, father Ball reportedly turned down an offer from NBC for his family to star in a reality show in order to have the 10-episode weekly series, Ball in the Family, debut on Facebook.
“We had an offer from NBC, but we turned it down,” Ball told ESPN. “Who’s watching TV these days? Facebook was the smart move for us because that’s the future.”
Read more at ESPN.