Commissioner Ball...as in LaVar Ball.
Never failing to be controversial, the Ball family dropped a huge bomb on Wednesday morning. LaVar is planning on creating the Junior Basketball Association -- a league for the best high school players in the country to play in right before entering the NBA Draft.
Ball plans on having eight teams with 10 players per squad. The kicker is that he'll pay each player up to $10,000 per month for their services. The lowest amount one would earn per month is $3,000.
He made the following statement to SLAM Online:
We have officially launched our own pro basketball league called the “Junior Basketball Association,” sponsored by Big Baller Brand. The JBA is the very first junior pro basketball league of its kind. The JBA will cater to the top ranked high school basketball prospects in America. All nationally ranked high school seniors, whose main goal 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 participating players will be paid up to $10,000 per month, as they prepare to enter the NBA Draft the following year.
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.
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.
NCAA President Mark Emmert had made comments in recent weeks indirectly about LaVar and his decision to pull his middle son -- LiAngelo -- from UCLA. A dichotomy in essence was presented. A young man/woman can represent a university and all that it stands for within competition. These individuals can also use college as a platform to work on their respective crafts, and thus turn professional when the time is right. Emmert did admit that if neither of these choices appealed to the said family, that it may be best to not enter college at all.
LaVar is taking this premise to an entirely new level. Not only is he offering an alternative for high school seniors, but he's also effectively squaring off against the NCAA.
There are a lot of logistics to be hashed out when considering this 'league'. For one, the actual payment of players will be a fascinating sight to behold. Will this be heavily driven from a potential television deal? Will LaVar pay the players all out of pocket? Secondly, where will these games be played? The thought is that these contests will take place in NBA arenas across various cities (Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Brooklyn). This will be a costly expenditure -- not to mention the presence of actual NBA teams playing during the regular season.
Additionally, how will all of this shake out with the NCAA itself? Will players bypass a free education in favor of a far-from-certain entity? Will the tutelage garnered in a college basketball program be surpassed by the coaching of this league?
Operating under the premise of paying players is a highly fascinating concept. There are those whom feel as if college athletes are not fairly compensated enough for the revenue they help to create for the university itself. On the flip-side, garnering a free four-year education is immensely generous.
The players will be wearing Big Baller Brand gear in all instances -- from jerseys to shoes, and even t-shirts. Lonzo Ball has taken the place of Jerry West as the silhouette in the league's logo:
Logo of LaVar Ball’s league aimed at top high school players is a silhouette of Lonzo ready to dunk. pic.twitter.com/hBf9WHBdJG
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) December 20, 2017
LaVar is threatening to shatter the glass ceiling considerably. With that said, the JBA appears to be a highly risky -- and volatile -- enterprise. Should a high school prospect opt to play in this league, one would think it could hurt the NBA draft stock of the said player. One also has to question the coaching from this league when compared to the instruction on a more official basis.
This is yet another crazy chapter in the ongoing saga that is the Ball Family. Though we don't know whether this will be a commercial success, one can be sure that it will continue to draw plenty of headlines.
Image Source: Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports