LaMelo Ball will be playing for the Australian Basketball League’s Illawarra Hawks next season, with hopes becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
After his father LaVar made the rounds at ESPN earlier this morning, LaMelo joined “The Jump” to announce that he has signed with the Illawarra Hawks on a two-year deal that includes NBA out clauses. The 17-year old, 6’7 guard currently ranks 21st overall in the ESPN 100 class 2019.
LaMelo will join fellow high school basketball star RJ Hampton, who recently signed with the New Zealand Breakers instead playing for Kansas. According to ESPN, the Hawks and Breakers finished tied for sixth place in the NBL last season.
“My agents did a ton research on the options I had to play this coming season and Australia really made sense for me,” Ball told ESPN. “They have a really strong league, with excellent coaches and great players, including former and future NBA players, and great strength and conditioning programs. My goal is to be the top pick in next year’s Draft and I feel they can help me reach that goal. Also, the timing the season works well with the timing next year’s Draft.”
“I am really looking forward to playing pressionally this season, so that I can focus all my time and energy on basketball,” Ball said. “My experience in Lithuania will help make the adjustment easier. Playing overseas pressionally at just 16-years-old put me in a place where I had to figure things out quickly and I think that experience will make a huge difference for me in Australia.”