LaVar Ball has already coached his three kids from youth into the ranks of professional basketball. Now he wants to do the same with yours.
Ball has announced the formation of the Junior Basketball Association, a league expressly designed to bypass the NCAA and pay high school prospects up to $10,000 a month. The move would allow talented high schoolers the opportunity to prepare for the NBA without having to go through the choreographed dance that is one-and-done.
“All nationally ranked high school seniors, whose main goal [sic] are to reach the NBA, will be offered an opportunity to join the JBA, turning pro straight out of high school and bypassing the usual college pit stop,” the JBA said in a statement. “The JBA league is for basketball players who intend to pursue the sport professionally. With the introduction of the JBA, allowing the NCAA to regulate and control the eligibility status of top basketball prospects will no longer be an issue. There is no need to partake in an institution that claims its purpose is not to help you prepare for your professional career.”
The statement, which is unsigned but bears all the hallmarks of a LaVar Ball flamethrower, uses NCAA president Mark Emmert’s own words as justification. Speaking in connection with LiAngelo Ball’s withdrawal from UCLA, Emmert said, “Is this a part of someone being part of your university as a student-athlete or is it about using college athletics to prepare yourself to be a pro? If it’s the latter, you shouldn’t be there in the first place.”
The JBA, then, is in effect a trade school for pro prospects. And the statement leaves no doubt about the fact that the NCAA is a direct competitor and target. “For decades, the NCAA has run a business that has exploited thousands of teens, while college institutions, coaches, media conglomerates, and corporate sponsors have all profited from the model. The JBA is a long-awaited solution to this ongoing problem.”
At the moment, the JBA has a logo, a web address, and not much else. But you can sign up for updates! It’s a fascinating idea, though as with all leagues, financing will be a primary concern. But much like John Calipari’s avowed one-and-done professional finishing school at Kentucky, Ball is turning the NCAA’s own restrictive policies against itself. This ought to be an interesting little saga.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.