LaMelo Ball has readied himself for the 2020 NBA Draft by playing overseas in Australia’s NBL since August. Now set to come back to the United States, Ball is making sure his mark Down Under will be long lasting.
The 18-year bought the NBL’s Illawarra Hawks — the team he played for — for an unspecified sum, he announced Thursday through manager Jermaine Jackson.
That’s a big baller flex from Ball considering he hasn’t received his first NBA paycheck yet. Any teammate who wronged Ball over the past year is probably pretty scared of the ramifications of the move, though it does appear Ball had an overwhelmingly positive experience with the club.
“Melo loves the Illawarra fans,” Jackson told ESPN. “He loves that community. They opened their arms to him. They made us feel like we are at home. When we started hearing about the issues they were going through, we talked about it and decided, ‘Let’s own the team.’
Ball, a viral star since his early high school days pulling up to shoot from halfcourt, is projected to go No. 3 in Sporting News’ latest mock draft. He averaged 17 points per game in his lone Australian season competing in a league of professionals.
Ball’s hope is that the Illawarra Hawks will become an NBA factory under his guidance.
“When high school kids hear LaMelo owns the team, they will want to come,” Jackson told ESPN. “They’ll know they will be taken care of. We’re going to put the organization on steroids, building it into a program that guys want to play for.