LaMelo Ball announces he will play in Australia next season

Sam Cooper
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 31: LaMelo Ball smiles after the Big Baller Brand All American Game at the Orleans Arena on March 31, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)
LaMelo Ball will play next season in Australia. (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)

Another top high school prospect is heading to Australia.

And this one comes from a famous family.

LaMelo Ball, brother of Lakers second overall pick Lonzo Ball, announced Monday that he has signed a contract to play for the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League, the professional league in Australia. Ball, 17, previously played professionally in Lithuania so he would likely be ineligible to play college basketball.

According to ESPN, Ball agreed to a two-year deal with the Hawks. The contract includes out clauses for the NBA. LaVar Ball, LaMelo’s outspoken father, previously told reporters that LaMelo was choosing between Australia and China for the next step in his basketball career.

Ball, who played at Spire Academy in Ohio last season after returning from Europe, is the second high school prospect to choose the NBL. Last month, R.J. Hampton chose to play for the New Zealand Breakers of the NBL instead of spending one season playing college basketball. Hampton said he plans to play one season in the NBL before entering the NBA draft.

Ball said Monday he plans to follow that same path and play one year in Australia before going to the NBA.

NBL CEO Jeremy Loeliger told Yahoo Sports earlier this month that the league was pursuing Ball via its “Next Stars” program, the same program that helped bring Hampton aboard.

“LaMelo is one of the most exciting and talked about young players in the basketball world and he is going to create enormous interest wherever he goes,” Loeliger said in a league press release.

LaMelo, once committed to UCLA, was infamously pulled from Chino Hills High School in California by LaVar to play in Lithuania with his brother LiAngelo. LaMelo was just 16 years old at the time.

"My experience in Lithuania will help make the adjustment easier,” Ball told ESPN. “Playing overseas professionally 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."

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