Less than a week after LaVar Ball pulled his middle son LiAngelo from UCLA after a vague disagreement with the school regarding discipline for the freshman’s shoplifting arrest in China, Ball told ESPN that both LiAngelo and 16-year-old LaMelo had signed with agent Harrison Gaines and would soon sign deals to play overseas. Gaines, who also represents Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, has already reportedly been in contact with a handful of teams in Europe and Asia about the services of the Ball brothers, neither of whom has even played in a college game. Because they’ve retained professional representation, they will not be allowed to play college basketball.
“I don’t care about the money,” LaVar Ball said on Thursday morning. “I want them to go somewhere where they will play them together on the court at the same time. The priority is for the boys to play on the same team.”
Historically, players who’ve eschewed college for a year of pro ball in Europe or Asia haven’t ended up in high draft slots. Emmanuel Mudiay was picked highest of any player to have done so, though his early struggles to adjust to the NBA might make teams reluctant to pull the trigger on another such prospect. LiAngelo doesn’t project out to be an NBA player, and while LaMelo is a top recruit, he’s also 16 years old and years away from possible draft eligibility.
LaVar Ball told Jeff Goodman that he’ll deputize a trio of Ball uncles to accompany the brothers wherever they go and help prepare them for an NBA future. It’s a future that has almost certainly been made more unlikely by this move.