Saying that he has found a “long-awaited solution” to an “ongoing problem,” LaVar Ball announced Wednesday his intention to launch a professional league specifically geared toward recruiting top high school players who don’t want to make a “pit stop” at a college before becoming eligible for the NBA draft. The league will be called the Junior Basketball Association, and it will be sponsored by the Ball family’s company, Big Baller Brand.
“The JBA will cater to the top ranked high school basketball prospects in America,” Ball said in a statement (via SLAM). According to reports, Ball plans to pay players between $3,000 and $10,000 a month to fill eight teams, with 10-man rosters, based in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas.
“Getting these players is going to be easy,” Ball told ESPN’s Darren Rovell. “This is giving guys a chance to get a jump start on their career, to be seen by pro scouts, and we’re going to pay them because someone has to pay these kids.”
Ball said his motivation for creating the league came in part from NCAA President Mark Emmert, who commented after Ball’s son LiAngelo withdrew from UCLA earlier this month, following a suspension for an alleged incident of shoplifting in China.
“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?” Emmert said. “If it’s the latter, you shouldn’t be there in the first place.”
“He was right,” Ball told Rovell. “Those kids who are one-and-done, they shouldn’t be there with the NCAA trying to hold them hostage, not allowing them to keep the jersey they wear while selling replicas of them in stores. So our guy isn’t going to go to Florida State for a year. He’s going to come to our league.”
The league won’t have 19-year-old LiAngelo and 16-year-old LaMelo, the two younger sons of Ball, whose oldest son, Lonzo, is a rookie for the Lakers after having been the No. 2 overall pick in June’s NBA draft. LaMelo, who was pulled out of his Los Angeles-area high school in October, and LiAngelo Ball have signed to play with a professional team in Lithuania, starting in January.