LaMelo Ball Rumors
Of course, whether or not LaMelo is drafted will depend on how he performs in the NBL, but from a pure talent standpoint, Lonzo believes he has what it takes to play in the NBA. In fact, during a recent interview on the Lightharted Podcast, Lonzo said that LaMelo has the potential to better than him and LiAngelo: “If you look at just talent-wise, he’s got the most talent by far. I mean, it’s not even close and plus the height he’s getting now. He just all of a sudden got to 6’6”, I don’t know how. I feel like he was 5’10” when I played with him, so, I mean, the ceiling’s up for him — sky’s the limit. I’m just making sure he keeps his head on straight because, you know, in today’s world at 17 with however many followers he has, it can be a lot. I’m just making sure he stays focused and sticks to the grind.”
In the latest episode of “Ball In the Family,” LiAngelo revealed that all three of his brothers are now represented by CAA Sports: “When Zo got signed to CAA, they took me and Melo too. I’m trying to get on a summer league team and then hopefully that carry me to the NBA. It feels like stuff is starting to fall into place and it feels good.”
NBA star Trae Young says the hype about LaMelo Ball is REAL — because he believes it’s entirely possible the youngest Ball bro ends up a top 3 NBA draft pick in 2020. The Atlanta Hawks star just came off a FANTASTIC rookie season, and has been working out with LaMelo while he’s out here in Los Angeles. So, when we saw Trae in BH (#shopping) we wanted to know if he thinks Ball has the goods to be a top three pick in the NBA draft when he’s eligible next year. “Possibly, yeah for sure. He’ll be ready the by the time he gets to the league.”
One of the NBL’s smallest teams has signed one of US basketball’s most high-profile teenage talents, with LaMelo Ball joining the Illawarra Hawks. The 17-year-old guard, whose older brother Lonzo Ball plays in the NBA, has joined the NBL via the league’s Next Stars program, which offers projected NBA draft picks the chance to become professional and play in Australia in the lead-up to their draft year.
Marc Stein: League sources say Australia’s @NBL remains in pursuit of LaMelo Ball — 17-year-old brother of the just-traded Lonzo Ball — to sign a “Next Stars” contract. That’s the NBL program aimed at giving NBA prospects an alternative to college in the year before becoming draft eligible
Marc Stein: The Illawarra Hawks of the @NBL have been mentioned as a potential landing spot for LaMelo Ball, but “Next Stars” contracts are negotiated with the league rather than individual teams and players are then placed by the league with various franchises
Chino Hills High School and Spire Institute basketball star LaMelo Ball plans to play professionally overseas in China or Australia next season, his father, LaVar Ball, announced during halftime at the Big Baller Brand All American Game on Sunday. Here’s the transcript of the interview in which LaVar broke the news (H/T @ABtheHERO) “I’m going to let you know the plan know so everyone can just stop. With college, I already knew what they were about to do. ‘We’re going to investigate, we’re not going to let him play until we let him play, LaVar. We’re not going to let you do all that big mouth talking and then we’re going to hold him back and a whole year goes by.’ The G League … I’m not going to let no 28, 29-year-old dudes tee off on him. He’s trying to make a name for himself, so he’s definitely going overseas … to either Australia or China.”
As it stands, the NBL has a program set up for players in LaMelo’s exact situation. The ‘Next Stars’ program was initiated before the beginning of the 2018-19 season, with players paid by the NBL, then assigned to a team. The players who are brought over are paid $AUD100,000, which ends up as $US50,000 net, sources told foxsports.com.au in March, 2018. The teenagers are also given an apartment, a car, flights, and individual development training, sources said. There was just one Next Stars player this past season, Brian Bowen II, who came off the bench for the Sydney Kings.
“I think [FC Dallas] is doing it right. That is our future. We have to get AAU out of the mix,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told me over email. For Cuban, the biggest selling point of a potential NBA academy is removing some of the negative influences that surround the top young basketball players in this country. They are celebrities as much as they are athletes — just look at the hype surrounding the AAU game between Zion Williamson and LaMelo Ball this summer — and there’s an intense competition for their services that starts in middle school and goes all the way through college. What travel team will they play for? What shoe company circuit will they play on? These are questions the soccer players at the FC Dallas academy don’t have to deal with.
Late in Sunday’s episode of Ball in the Family, we saw as LaMelo followed up his poor Game 2 performance with a brawl and ejection against BC Dzukija in Lithuania — a game that Dzukija went on to win. LaVar was absolutely furious. The fight broke out at the 18-minute mark of the episode with an incensed LaVar watching everything unfold from the sideline. He said of LaMelo: “Didn’t I tell you don’t do this on that stage? Oh, I wanted to choke the hell out of him. Like, man, you messing this up for a lot of people, man. For a lot of people.”
As far as Jermaine Jackson is concerned, Lonzo won’t be the only member of the Ball family to be drafted into the NBA as a lottery pick. In fact, Jackson, head coach at Spire Basketball Academy, where the youngest Ball, LaMelo, just enrolled, says the 17-year-old can “no question” end up going No. 1 overall. “LaMelo Ball can be the No. 1 pick in a year or two going to the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Jackson, who played five seasons in the NBA, said in an interview with TMZ Sports. “Ain’t no question about it. … He has the talent that, some of it just can’t be taught. So I’m not the guy that’s going to say, ‘Oh, let me put some handcuffs on you, let me put some more dribbling on you.’ Hell no. Do what you do and I’m going to sit back and watch you do what you do.”
Donatas Urbonas: After a fight with LaMelo Ball, Dzukija F Mindaugas Susinskas told (TV3): “He often pushed me in my back or hit my face. There was always something. I asked him why he was doing this and he was just trash talking. And then it started… I think it was arrogant.”
LaMelo Ball was ejected from a game in Lithuania on Monday after sparking a brawl. Ball, the youngest brother of Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball, was playing for a “USA” team made up of players from the Junior Basketball Association — the league started by his father, LaVar Ball — on an international tour. Mindaugas Susinskas of Lithuanian club Dzukija appeared to tap LaMelo Ball on the back of the head after a ball went out of play, and the 17-year-old responded by striking his opponent in the face.
Donatas Urbonas: LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball will visit Lithuania on JBA International tour in October. According to sources, on October 1st they will play in Alytus vs Dzukija (1st division team) and on October 4th vs Sintek in Jonava (2nd division).
But the brothers weren’t able to live up to the incredible hype. LiAngelo Ball averaged 12.6 points in 14 games, but ended up sidelined with an ankle injury. LaMelo Ball saw his playing time decrease as the season went on and ended up averaging 6.5 points in eight games. “The most disappointing fact was that they had no inner drive to become better,” Seskus said. “And when they saw it was going nowhere, they started destroying the club, not paying out prize money to the Big Baller Brand tournament winners, etc.”
LiAngelo Ball will play with one of his brothers on a Los Angeles basketball franchise. Unfortunately, it’s not Lonzo, it’s not the Los Angeles Lakers and it’s not in the NBA. LiAngelo will be a part of the Los Angeles Ballers in his dad LaVar’s JBA, where he’ll team up with younger sibling LaMelo: The middle Ball brother said he just wants to win and is “trying to get better every day” after he went undrafted in the NBA.
To some, LaVar Ball’s boasts about Lonzo Ball being better than Stephen Curry, LiAngelo Ball being the best shooting guard in the 2018 NBA draft and LaMelo Ball being the best thing since sliced bread (in so many words) may seem nauseating. To Hall of Famer Gary Payton—whose own son, Gary Payton II, played with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017-18—the Big Baller Brand CEO is merely doing his best to support his sons, as is his wont. “This kid came out of UCLA, and his father put him up here, which his father should’ve done. That’s a father, whatever it wants to do, that’s a father who wants to market his son,” Payton said during an appearance on FS1’s “Undisputed.” “He markets all his sons. That’s what he should do. I don’t care. He does it the way that people don’t like it. So what? That’s him.”
Ed O’Bannon and Earl Watson believe that the Big Baller Brand eight-team Junior Basketball Association, which starts on June 21, will give kids who might not have been able to play in college an alternative way to pursue their dreams. LaMelo Ball will play on the Los Angeles squad. “They are part of a team and they are going to get paid and they get to represent the name on the jersey and name on the back,” said O’Bannon, who along with Watson is on the JBA advisory board. “The time for this league was well overdue. I love the fact that they aren’t blue chippers [that were recruited] and the fact that they have been given up on or maybe they didn’t have the grades [for college], whatever the situation is, they are here now and they will make the most of this great opportunity.”
The Big Baller Brand’s unveiling of LaMelo Ball’s “Melo Ball 1” shoe could turn out to be a game-changer in more ways than one. As LaVar Ball explained to a staffer at the Professional Basketball Combine in Florida—where LiAngelo Ball is due to audition on Wednesday—Melo becoming the first high-school kid with his own signature basketball shoe could spark NBA players, most of whom don’t have their own kicks, to seek out their own silhouettes. “Everybody gonna start going like this, ‘You know what? I want my own damn shoe,’” the Ballfather explained. “If I have Melo come out at 16 years old in high school with a shoe, I make all the NBA players look at Nike and Adidas and be like, ‘Where’s my signature shoe?’”
Kyle Kuzma’s trip to Atlanta is the gift that keeps on giving—especially as far as the Los Angeles Lakers Troll Wars are concerned. When asked who he would start, cut and bench for his squad in the popular multiplayer game “Fortnite,” Kuz chose fellow rookie Josh Hart for the first of those designations and saved the last two for Lonzo and LaMelo Ball. “I’m gonna cut Lonzo because he’s played with my little brother before and he’s told me that he’s terrible,” Kuzma said. “And Melo is the bench. I’m guessing Melo is second because he’s in Lithuania right now and there’s nothing else to do but video games.”
LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball have ended their stint in Lithuania because both of the brothers are hurt and there are only two games left in the season, sources close to the Ball family told ESPN’s Chris Haynes. The early exit had the approval of the team, BC Vytautas, the sources told Haynes.
LaVar Ball, the brothers’ father, told 15min.lt that LaMelo would not return to the team next season. “You really ask me this? Coach ruined everything, and he’ll have to pay the price that Melo is not coming back,” he said.
Ball reality show comes to an end. BC Vytautas confirmed that Ball brothers are set to leave Lithuania next week, with two LKL regular season games left to play. BC Vytautas still will be fighting to avoid relegation.
“We’re not going to waste our time no more”, LaVar told. LiAngelo injured his ankle, LaMelo didn’t get any playing time, so LaVar decided to take all his sons back to LA. Lonzo is visiting his family in Prienai right now. They’re set to leave Sunday-Monday.
Donatas Urbonas: BC Vytautas won 3 LKL games in a row keeping their hopes to avoid relegation. But coach Seskus complained about Ball family/group behaviour behind the bench: “It was low. Behind the bench it was nonsense. Sometimes it looks like these people don’t want us to win.”
Crawford and the brand are expected to continue talks toward a deal, sources said. Big Baller Brand is an apparel company that was started by LaVar Ball and named for his sons, Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball.
I watch LaVar smile as he takes selfies with fans, parading around like he did when he watched his eldest son, Lonzo, courtside when the Lakers visited Madison Square Garden. Except here there is no Jumbotron or tunnel or VIP lounge or concession stand. Just creaky hardwood and worn, gray seats. Only 1,500 of them. This gym, here in Prienai, Lithuania, a tiny town in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, sits next to a tall, snowy smokestack and an abandoned road. It’s where Melo has become the youngest American pro. It’s the perfect setting for the debut of a father with no collegiate or professional coaching experience, only AAU.
The game starts. Melo easily maneuvers through the wide-open key. Alytaus Dzukija seems allergic to defense. Melo throws no-look dimes and scoops in layups. The game quickly turns into who can make the most wide-open threes. Alytaus Dzukija’s Gediminas Zalalis drills one after having three Mississippis to get his feet set. “Good defense,” Seskus manages in English, turning to me sarcastically right after the shot, breaking the fourth wall. Seskus begins to look like he’s getting boxed out of his scene altogether as LaVar rises from the bench and yells: “Knockdown!” “Yessirrrrrrrrrrrrrr!” “And one!” “There you gooooo!” When he screams, “No. 10, come in,” it becomes apparent to me, after being around the team for six games and just over two weeks of practice, that LaVar still doesn’t know guard Paulius Ivanauskas’ name. Ivanauskas rolls his eyes. This isn’t the first time LaVar has attempted to “coach.”
When LaMelo Ball arrived in Prienai, his new team shockingly didn’t seem interested in challenging him on the court. I observed him at daily practices and games for three weeks, and in that time I didn’t see him or his teammates run a single suicide or timed up-and-back sprint. I didn’t see any punishment for blown layups or defensive errors, either. And games were scheduled against lesser opponents. How can Melo soar when his father has cleared any hurdle that might come his way?
I listened to LaVar Ball tell me, proudly, in an exclusive 56-minute interview, that his son is embarking on a journey that is uncharted. But what I saw was the exact opposite: Every bit of the Lithuania experience is charted, every bit of it is staged, by LaVar himself. By the end of January, he leapfrogs to head coach, manipulating the team and the competition to tip the scales in his son’s favor. But as LaMelo Ball walks out of the gym after the Alytaus Dzukija game, disappearing into the starless night typical of Prienai, nearly 6,000 miles from everything that was once familiar, I wonder: How can a boy with so much talent ever become the NBA star of his dreams—of his father’s dreams—if he isn’t challenged?
I pressed Vaitkevicius about why they named the series the Big Baller Brand Challenge. He responded with a smile. “You know what is the focus,” he says without elaborating, as if my question is self-explanatory: We all know why we’re in Lithuania. The Challenge is five games against second-rate teams (two of them amateur) to guarantee minutes for Melo and Gelo, who log far fewer minutes in the more challenging portion of the team’s schedule, the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL). “It is just a joke,” Steponas Kairys, a Lithuanian coach who helped establish the LKL in 1993, tells me. He calls the Balls’ Lithuania experience a “show,” especially in that the team can guarantee playing time for the brothers without their earning it first. “It’s not real. It’s not honest.”
Ball also said he had no reaction to comments made by his father, LaVar, that detailed a plan in which the point guard will not re-sign with the Lakers when his rookie contract is up unless the Lakers eventually sign his two brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo. Ball reiterated that he just sticks to playing basketball no matter what headlines his father creates. “I did [see it],” Ball said when asked about LaVar’s comments to a Lithuanian reporter. “No reaction [to it]. Like I said, I always just play. He always talks. It’s always been the same way.”
Donatas Urbonas: LaVar Ball on his big plan how he’s going to bring Lonzo, Melo and Gelo to one NBA team: “Lonzo will be on his 3rd year and I want let every NBA team know, that Lonzo is not going to resign with the Lakers, but will go to any team, that will take all of my three boys.”
LaVar Ball: I want all my three boys to play for the Lakers. But if that does not happen. I’m telling you the story what’s gonna happen first. If they don’t take Gelo this year, I bring back Gelo here (Prienai) to play with Melo for two years. Lonzo will be on his third year and I want let every NBA team know. that Lonzo is not going to resign with the Lakers but will go to any leans that will take all of my three lboys. That’s my plan. Lonzo plays best when he is with his brother. Why wouldn’t — he is hell of a shooter. They don’t play the same position. You see how successful he was when he was with his brother? Why wouldn’t you be smart and say: so, you want your brother? Come on. let’s complete the Royal Flush and get the other brother.
LaVar Ball: We don’t have to go any draft. Just sips hiss in a free agency. You don’t have to give Gelo 15M. Give my million for three years. we’ll take it. Cause they snake so much money off the court. they loose spare change. So now you win championship after championship on fact that my boys will never leave. That’s what I mean championship. championship. championship. You got to keep the team together for a long time. but you can’t because more money is offered. that’s why guys jumping between the teams. But what’s better than three Ball boys together? The Big Three. The original Big Three.
As expected, LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball are in Lithuania to stay. Lithuanian club Vytautas Prienu will exercise contract guarantee options for LaMelo and LiAngelo this month, as the sides have committed to the remainder of the season through June, sources told Yahoo Sports.
LaVar called in from Prienai on Monday morning to reveal that he’s no longer speaking to ESPN reporters—namely, Jeff Goodman and Ramona Shelburne—and that the Triple B’s will be co-branding with a Lithuanian company on some high-quality hydration soon. “I sent Jeff Goodman home early,” Ball said, per audio provided by the Big Lead’s Ryan Glasspiegel. “Otherwise he would have still been out here. But how are you going to be out here if I won’t interview with you no more? You got to come home.”
LaVar called Goodman “sheisty” for sneaking in questions about Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball when the two were scheduled to sit down and chat about Gelo and Melo earlier this month. That interview spawned the Ballfather’s now-infamous comments about Luke Walton having “lost” his team, along with the ensuing firestorm. LaVar revealed that Goodman had tried to go around him and talk to his brother, LaValle, who has been with the Ball family throughout its stay in Lithuania.
Before taking the floor to act as head coach for Prienu Vytautas in its 151-120 win over Jonavos Jonava in the Big Baller Brand Challenge Games finale on Sunday, LaVar Ball shared his plans for LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball’s basketball futures with Sportando. Those plans? For Gelo to join the Los Angeles Lakers and for Melo to stay with BC Vytautas until he’s eligible for the NBA draft in 2020.
Playing professional basketball nearly 6,000 miles from L.A. has done nothing to dissuade LiAngelo Ball from the notion—pushed persistently by LaVar Ball—that he will one day suit up for the Los Angeles Lakers. “I see myself on the Lakers, probably,” Gelo told Vytautas Water, the sponsor of the club for which he and LaMelo Ball play in Lithuania.
LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball’s pro basketball debut with Prienu Vytautas wasn’t the only thing happening on Facebook on Tuesday. While BC Vytautas was en route to a 90-80 win over Zalgiris-2 in the Big Baller Brand Challenge Games, Sports Illustrated’s Jared Zwerling joined Lonzo Wire’s Josh Martin to share his experiences with LaVar Ball, Gelo and Melo in Lithuania, his thoughts on the boys’ NBA futures and more.
In a packed gym of about 1,500 people in the tiny Lithuanian town of Prienai, the Ball brothers combined to score 29 points in the their professional debuts. With LaVar and his wife, Tina, sitting courtside, 19-year-old LiAngelo Ball scored 19 points while his younger brother, LaMelo Ball finished with 10 and had several no-look assists to lead Prienai Vytautas to a 90-80 victory over Zalgiris’ second team.
Both players came off the bench in the second half. LaMelo checked in with 4:30 left in the third quarter. He took another deep 3 just seconds after checking into the game in the second half, and the shot barely grazed the rim. On the next possession, he drove the left baseline and wound up making an acrobatic basket on a reverse layup. LiAngelo was far more efficient in the second half, and also played much of the time with his 16-year-old brother on the floor at the same time. The team’s next game is Saturday night in a Lithuanian league contest at Litkabelis, but it’s unclear how much playing time the brothers will receive since it counts in the standings.
Because of his job as a Portland Trail Blazers scout, Pack can’t speak about LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball, who are in Lithuania preparing to make their professional basketball debuts on Tuesday. But Pack would highly recommend the opportunity to play in basketball-crazed Lithuania. “Basketball is No. 1, and coming from the NBA, the fans were crazy and knowledgeable about the game,” Pack said. “It was a great experience because they knew what they were seeing. The energy was in the building. You felt like you were playing in an NBA kind of environment. They were crazy about supporting their team. It was a really good experience with competitive basketball to play.”
Asked how the competition is in Lithuania, Pack said: “You have some Americans on every team. The actual league play has gotten better because they have more American players going over there. But at that time, my better competition was playing in Euroleague than in the Lithuanian or Baltic league. “They had some players that could play. They had young talent and they worked at it.”
During a press conference in Lithuania, LaVar Ball was asked to sign a Lakers hat and write the date that all three Ball brothers would be playing together in Los Angeles. “Melo is… 16, that’s going to be two years. 2020.” Ball was asked to clarify when LaMelo, his youngest son, would make it to the NBA, and the Big Baller made an even more shocking prediction. “The youngest one [in two years], that’s what I’m talking about. Gelo will be this year… this June. Gelo will be there.”
Prienai Vytautas, the Lithuanian team which signed LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball, has withdrawn from the Baltic Basketball League this season and will instead play in the Big Baller Brand Challenge, a series of five “friendly” games in an effort to get the brothers extensive playing time. The team also announced it will show each of the games on Facebook. “When you come out and they change it just for the Balls,” LaVar Ball told ESPN. “You know it’s real.”
Prienu Vytautas, the Lithuanian team for which LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball are set to make their professional debuts next week, is in discussions to set up a new tournament later this month to get the brothers more playing time. “We’re discussing a new tournament now to play five games here in Prienai in our arena,” the team’s general manager, Adomas Kubilius, told ESPN. “It would be with EuroLeague teams. “We’re talking to teams like Zalgiris and CSKA Moscow about playing in it. It would be an opportunity for them to play more games, and play against players of similar age.”
LaVar Ball didn’t wait long to start picking up the local language in Lithuania. Within his first day in Prienai, the Big Baller Brand CEO was already working on phrases to help him navigate through the nation with his family while LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball begin their professional basketball careers with Prienu Vytautas. “Boy, you guys are teaching the Big Baller language already. See, that’s what I’m talking about,” he coos for the cameras. “Soon as we touch down, let’s learn something.”
Now that LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball are in Lithuania, you too can own a piece of their experience. Amazon has posted replicas of the brothers’ Prienu Vytautas jerseys for $99 each—or, about a quarter of the price for a pair of LaMelo Ball’s Melo Ball 1 shoes through the Big Baller Brand.
LaVar Ball and his sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, arrived in Lithuania on Wednesday, and they were greeted to an overly enthusiastic scene at the Vilnius airport. Reporters from the U.S. and across Lithuania had gathered at the airport for the Ball family’s arrival, and when they finally stepped into the lobby, the media swarmed the Ball family. LaVar was right at the center of it all.
LaVar Ball didn’t have much to offer TMZ Sports as he, LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball wound their way through Los Angeles International Airport en route to Lithuania on Tuesday. However, the Big Baller Brand CEO did take the opportunity to not only reiterate his plan to get Gelo and Melo on the Los Angeles Lakers with Lonzo Ball, but also suggest that doing so would be a cinch. “It’s gonna be easy for all three of them to get on the Lakers,” LaVar said. “Just watch.”
The looming arrivals of LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball mean first-division Lithuanian club Vytautas Prienai will soon have their jerseys available for sale in the United States. Vytautas will sell the jerseys exclusively on Amazon in early January, the first step toward marketing the brothers stateside, a team official told Yahoo Sports. The team has shipped approximately 500 game jerseys — half LaMelo jerseys and half LiAngelo ones — to an Amazon warehouse in the U.S. and is expected to ship more to deliver late in the first week of January, the team official said. For Vytautas, LaMelo and LiAngelo have provided the branding to create marketing deals in Lithuania and the U.S.
It was only fitting, perhaps, that an intercontinental escapade exhibiting the awesome power of the present day sports-celebrity-industrial complex began with a late-night direct message on Twitter. At around 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 6, Erikas Kirvelaitis, a 21-year-old basketball journalist in Lithuania, sent an unsolicited question via Twitter to Harrison Gaines, a sports agent in Los Angeles with two semifamous teenage clients: Would LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball, by any chance, be interested in playing professional basketball in Prienai? Kirvelaitis had been hired only a few months earlier to do part-time communications work for Prienai-Birstonas Vytautas, a small club here in the Lithuanian basketball league. His bosses did not know at first about his Twitter gambit. It was a shot in the dark, anyway.
But to Kirvelaitis’s amazement, Gaines wrote back asking for more information. And less than a week later, the young Americans were signing contracts to begin their professional careers in this unassuming town nearly 6,000 miles from home. “It was like a dream, crazy, a miracle, for our club to even have contact with them,” Kirvelaitis said. “But I’m someone who believes anything can be done if you try.”
People in Lithuania sensed immediately that something big had happened, even if they did not quite know who the boys were. This is a basketball-mad country, and the eyes of the sport had suddenly turned its way. “It is the talk of the country,” said Althea Cawley-Murphree, an official at the American Embassy in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. The teenagers, for now, may be more fame-adjacent than truly famous, and scouts have doubts about their realistic prospects in the game. But for Vytautas, a financially struggling club looking for ways to raise their profile for sponsors and sell more tickets, that was enough. “One of the brothers on Instagram has as many followers as Lithuania does people,” said Adomas Kubilius, the director of the club. “At the beginning, it seemed almost like a joke, just something for fun.” He paused for a second and shrugged. “And then it got serious.”
The impending arrival of the Ball brothers — they are scheduled to come to Lithuania on Jan. 4 and could play their first game five days later — has sent a jolt through Prienai, a small town on the banks of the Neman River with a population of around 9,000 people. One of the handful of restaurants in town, for instance, changed the text of its scrolling LED sign almost as soon as the news was announced. “TANGO PIZZA WELCOMES BALL FAMILY TO PRIENAI CITY!!!!!” it read, casting a red glow on a sleepy, snow-covered intersection below.
“I don’t know if he’s exploiting them. He’s giving them opportunities they didn’t have, without question,” Kenny Smith told TMZ Sports. “I think that there are multiple routes. He took that route, but he doesn’t know the other route, how it helps you to go to college, not just on a basketball standpoint.” Smith thought it was “a good move” to send LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball to Lithuania, but emphasized that he’s still “a proponent of college.”
Lonzo Ball says his brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo, heading to play pro ball in Lithuania is “a good decision.” “We talked about it as a family,” Ball said. “Wishing them the best over there.” When asked if 16-year-old LaMelo will be OK overseas at such a young age, Ball said, “as long as he’s playing basketball, he’ll be fine. They’re not going by themselves, they’ll be people over there with them.”
Fran Fraschilla: Prominant former American player who played for Ball brothers’s new coach had some insight on him: 1. Competent coach w/free-wheeling pick-and-roll offense. 2. Speaks no English 3. Screams the entire game. 4. Sold meat out of his car trunk to his players after practice. I swear.
Donatas Urbonas: Vytautas GM on Ball bros arrival to Prienai: ‘I want to say to US people that Prienai is not a tundra. I was already asked if we have the Internet here. Actually, our internet connection is one of the best in the whole world. Tell them that they have nothing to be afraid of!’
Struggle? What struggle? LaVar Ball seems to believe that playing professional basketball Lithuania will be a breeze for LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball, who signed six-month contracts with Prienu Vytautas on Monday. “There’s not going to be a struggle at all,” the Big Baller Brand CEO told TMZ Sports. The Ballfather also brushed aside any concerns about a potential language barrier for his boys. “Who cares? We’re going to play basketball,” he said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Story filed to ESPN with @Jonathan Givony: LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball are in serious discussions to sign professional basketball deals with Lithuanian club Prienu Vytautas. Club plans to decide in next 24-to-48 hours whether to finalize an agreement with the two American teenagers.
Before he was a champion with Louisville, he was a high-school star. As a junior, he led the New York City Catholic League in scoring and was named to the New York State Sportswriters Association’s All-State team in 2009. There are some obvious parallels between the 26-year-old and the Ball brothers. Smith told HoopsHype that he has nothing but love for the family and LaVar Ball reminds him of his father. “I can only respect how they are going to figure their lives out. The kids live a tremendous life,” said Smith. “[It’s] a life a lot of the population would wish to trade for. Shout out to Big Baller Brand and big ups to LaVar Ball.”
“China is a very forgiving place,” Smith said. “I feel like if he were to come here and do some positive things as far as camps or a clinic or something, it will all be forgotten as far as China goes.”
08 Dec 17
LaVar Ball told ESPN that LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball have signed with agent Harrison Gaines, ending any speculation that LaMelo will play college basketball, and the plan is now for both to play on the same team overseas. “I don’t care about the money,” LaVar 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.”
LaVar said that Gaines, who also represents Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, has been dealing with various overseas clubs about LiAngelo and LaMelo. Sources told ESPN that there have been several teams in Europe and Asia that have expressed interest. “I don’t know the deals and who is offering what,” LaVar said. “I’m letting Harrison handle all that, but I know there are a few teams interested. I just need to get them playing again.”
LaMelo Ball and LiAngelo Ball decided to leave school to play abroad professionally. The two Ball brothers have been offered in Lithuania, Croatia, France and Japan so far. Basketeurope.com had the email the agents of the two youngsters are sending to the teams proposing the two players.
Among the overseas clubs that a representative for the Ball family approached about signing 19-year-old LiAngelo and his 16-year-old younger brother LaMelo is Lietkabelis of the Lithuanian Basketball League, general manager Mantas Ignatavičius confirmed Tuesday to Yahoo Sports. Lietkabelis coach Arturs Stalbergs subsequently scoffed at the idea in a since-deleted tweet that poked fun at LiAngelo’s shoplifting arrest in China last month. “We have an opening at the security staff since they have an experience in this field,” Stalbergs wrote.
“Twenty-five years ago, any college star could go to Europe and be the leading scorer on their team,” ESPN international draft expert Fran Fraschilla said. “After the Dream Team in Barcelona, the level of play in Europe skyrocketed. Now if you’re a really good player in the ACC, the likelihood of you playing in the EuroLeague as a rookie is slim. You have to go somewhere else, establish yourself and work your way up from there. To expect an 18-year-old teenager to do it is nearly impossible. unless your name is Luka Doncic or Ricky Rubio or someone like that.”
LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball have started to explore options to sign internationally, sources told Yahoo Sports. LiAngelo and UCLA parted ways officially on Monday, which marked the start of his preparation for his professional basketball career. Harrison Gaines, the representative for LaMelo, 16, and LiAngelo, 19, started initial contact with overseas teams this week, sources told Yahoo Sports.
“Saturday Night Live” no longer has a monopoly on spoofing LaVar Ball. The folks at “Funny or Die” put out their own parody of the Big Baller Brand CEO on “The Rich Eisen Show,” taking aim at his decision to pull LaMelo Ball out of Chino Hills High School with “The LaVar Ball School for Homeschooling.”
The skit even takes a not-so-subtle shot at LiAngelo Ball with a shipping option to “the Chinese prison your son is being detained in for shoplifting.” And, of course, what kind of school would LaVar’s be without a slogan? In this case, it’s “Behind every child, there’s a great dad standing right in front of ’em.”
Kevin Durant took some time away from rehabbing his sprained ankle to break down film on the country’s top high school basketball prospects. Among those he dissected, the Golden State Warriors All-Star and reigning NBA Finals MVP marveled at LaMelo Ball’s growth—in terms of height, athleticism and overall skill—as though he’s been tracking Lonzo Ball’s youngest brother for years. “Once he get into a right structure, system, too, that’s gonna maximize his talent, it’s gonna be over,” Durant said during his YouTube segment.
Here’s something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving: ‘Ball in the Family’ is returning to Facebook Watch this Sunday. By the looks of the Season 2 trailer, the next round of episodes for the Ball family’s reality show will feature everything from Lonzo Ball’s debut with the Los Angeles Lakers, LaVar Ball’s decision to pull LaMelo Ball out of Chino Hills High School, Tina Ball’s continuing recovery from her stroke, the move to “The Ball Estate” and the Big Baller Brand clan’s now-infamous trip to China and Hong Kong.
When it comes to shoes, De’Aaron Fox isn’t jealous of Lonzo Ball and LaMelo Ball. If anything, the Sacramento Kings rookie should be thankful that his counterpart with the Los Angeles Lakers chose to stick with the Big Baller Brand, since that paved the way for Fox to land a five-year, $12 million deal with Nike, per ESPN’s Nick DePaula. In Melo’s case, Fox certainly understands how and why a 16-year-old wound up with his own signature shoe, the Melo Ball 1. “It is different,” Fox told DePaula. “His brother [LaMelo] is the most famous high school player ever.”
02 Oct 17
“I’m going to make him the best basketball player ever,” LaVar said. “It’s good for Melo,” LaVar said. “Less distractions. He just needs to focus.” The next time people will be able to see LaMelo play is next spring in travel ball.”They’ll have to sit back and wait,” LaVar said.
LaVar said, calling out the NCAA: “The only thing they worried about is the money. How you thinking about not saying that the shoe look good or nothing like that? The first thing they’re trying to say is. ‘How can we make him ineligible?’ This has never happened before. So, you don’t even have a rule for it. You’re trying to find one. To say, ‘Yo, we gotta make him ineligible because he can’t be making money off a shoe.’”
He continued: “See here’s the thing, he’s not even in the NCAA and they’re trying to make something. He’s got two more years! So why even worry about that right now? But here’s the thing, when it comes to basketball and you’re good, you just better be ready for training camp … Who cares? He won’t go to the NCAA. ‘Oh, he better go overseas.’ Why? All he gotta do is be faster and stronger. And when it’s time to prepare, we could sit out for as long as we want.”
The Los Angeles Lakers know that point guard Lonzo Ball is good at basketball. It’s why they drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick this past June. But what might be more surprising to them and the rest of the NBA is Ball’s musical talent. The 19-year-old graced the airwaves with his debut rap single titled “Melo Ball 1” on Friday. And, no, the lyrical flow is not about New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. Rather, the two-minute song is a tribute to his younger brother, LaMelo, who just became the first high school player to have his own signature shoe. Released by the Big Baller Brand, LaMelo’s kicks are called the “Melo Ball 1s.”