By: Bryce Fields
LaMelo Ball has been in the headlines for multiple reasons over the past year – his 92 point performance while playing for Chino Hills High School, his father with the larger-than-life personality, his brother who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, or his recent stint as a professional basketball player, there are plenty of reasons to talk about the potential future pro hooper.
More recently, LaMelo has been in the public’s eye for another reason: he’s headed back to school. Despite last playing professionally in a league in Lithuania and then in the JBA, the youngest Ball son is going to spend his senior year at SPIRE Basketball Academy in Ohio.
When I first heard this news, it wasn’t very appealing to me. I mean, it was probably a better idea anyway then head back to the basketball league father LaVar Ball set up so that LiAngeloBall could play basketball “professionally.” It was kind of surprising to hear that LaMelo was actually planning on going to play college basketball since, you know, he played professionally for a while, which means you literally can’t play collegiately. Either way – good for him!
Here is where the problem comes in. Now that LaMelo and SPIRE are gearing up for the 2018-19 season, opponents are apparently not okay with playing a former professional player. Starting with Indiana high school powerhouse La Lumiere, different schools on SPIRE’s schedule are already dropping become of his time playing professionally.
Something about this entire situation just pisses me off. First off, LaMelo Ball apparently wasn’t paid to play basketball at any point, meaning he wasn’t technically a “professional” player. But come on now, was his time as a professional player really that big of a deal? Not that anyone saw anything but a couple highlights on Twitter, but I am really going to assume that the competition in Lithuania wasn’t even that great. Most of the teams they played were either 18 or 19-U teams, so it’s not like he had some incredible growing up playing against adults. He basically did the exact same thing he’s about to do – hell, that was in Lithuania, these high school teams might be better. The JBA wasn’t much different either. Players ranging from 16-21 years old were the extent of LaMelo’s competition (we won’t even touch on the competition level there, either).
This is an all-around atrocity to high school basketball. These prep schools have some of the best players in high school basketball, a conversation that LaMelo ball has earned to be a part of. If his time as a “professional” player really scares you that much, you need to reevaluate the confidence you have in your own team.