LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball, young brothers of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, will likely forego their college eligibility.
LiAngelo left the UCLA Men’s Basketball team on Monday afternoon and LaMelo “probably” will not play for the Bruins either. Shams Charania has confirmed the brothers will “explore options” to sign internationally.
Aaron Jackson is a 31-year-old professional basketball player who won the Euroleague championship in 2016. He currently plays in China and while he does not know the players personally, he does not think it would be an easy transition.
“It will be a difficult adjustment because there are so many variables when it comes to playing in China or Europe,” Jackson said. “They are still young and most likely not mentally ready to handle the adversities that come up.”
Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay played in China for a season before they declared for the NBA Draft rather than play in the college system.
Kristaps Porzingis, who is originally from Latvia, played in Spain before he played in the United States. When he was 17, he appeared on the court for a total of one minute in his debut for Sevilla. He did not score his first basket for the team until five months later.
Jackson explained nothing goes as planned and that the wall rookies face halfway through their first year in the NBA happens right away because the adjustment is so jarring.
“The players that make it are the people who can separate themselves from the off-court distractions,” said Jackson. “You have to perform on the court and work harder off the court to succeed in Europe or China.”
Still, the brothers will obviously be tempted to play abroad. As noted by Charania, they have significant value in the international market (via Yahoo Sports):
“LaMelo and LiAngelo — the younger brothers of Los Angeles Lakers starting point guard Lonzo Ball — have plenty of name recognition and accolades as they attempt to find professional landing spots ahead of their NBA draft turns.”
Kevin Knox, who now plays for Kentucky, reportedly declined an offer to forego college and play in China for $1.5 million on a one-year deal.
Knox, like LaMelo, was also a top-ten recruit. It’s possible LaMelo could be offered even more than his price tag. But the paycheck LaMelo and LiAngelo would receive is likely not the biggest draw for the family. As we speculated back in August, this could be an opportunity for the company to expand into the international market.
Big Baller Brand had pop-up shops in both Shanghai and Hong Kong in November. They will also try to have popup shop events in London as well as Paris and Dubai next year.
LaMelo and LiAngelo may both be younger, smaller and less experienced than their competitors abroad, but it would add value beyond the United States to the Big Baller Brand, which may be reason enough for it to happen.