Global teenage sensation LaMelo Ball has become the latest highly rated NBA prospect to join the Hungry Jack’s NBL, signing for the Illawarra Hawks as part of the NBL Next Stars program.
A five star recruit, LaMelo Ball is the younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans star Lonzo Ball and is currently ranked number 21 in the 2019 ESPN 1000 and considered a first round selection in the 2020 NBA Draft.
The 17 year-old will join top five NBA Draft prospect RJ Hampton as part of the NBL’s Next Stars program, which offers rising stars an alternative pathway to the NBA. Hampton recently announced he will play for the SKY Sport New Zealand Breakers.
Ball, a 198 cm point guard, won a state championship in his first year at Chino Hills High School and had a 92 point game in his second season. He then played in Lithuania before joining the Los Angeles Ballers of the Junior Basketball Association, a league founded by his father as an alternative to college basketball.
Last year he averaged 21 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for SPIRE Institute, a prep school in Ohio, and is currently playing in the Drew League where he earned player of the match honours with 25 points and 6 assists in his first game.
The Next Stars program was introduced last season following the drafting of Terrance Ferguson by NBA team Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017 after he elected not to go to college in the US, instead spending the 2016/17 NBL season with the Adelaide 36ers straight out of high school.