Since each of his three sons were still in high school, LaVar Ball made it clear they would only attend UCLA for one year and then bolt for the NBA Draft. Lonzo Ball was first to make that a reality, going a step further by getting selected second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was the first step toward LaVar’s dream, or prediction, that his three sons would suit up for the storied franchise. But their path to potentially getting there has changed in recent months and weeks.
In October, LaVar made the decision to remove LaMelo from Chino Hills High School. Earlier this month, LiAngelo was taken out of UCLA in the wake of an indefinite suspension as a result of a shoplifting incident in China.
Both players recently signed a contract to play professionally in Lithuania. But that doesn’t appear to have prevent LaVar from being a thorn in the side of the NCAA.
According to told Darren Rovell of ESPN, Ball said he plans to start the Junior Basketball Association, which will be funded by Big Baller Brand, to give young players a paid alternative to playing in college:
Ball said his Junior Basketball Association — which he said is fully funded by his Big Baller Brand — plans to pay the lowest-ranked player a salary of $3,000 a month and the best player $10,000 a month. Ball is looking for 80 players to fill 10 teams that will seek to play at NBA arenas in Los Angeles, Dallas, Brooklyn and Atlanta.
“Getting these players is going to be easy,” Ball told ESPN. “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 the rules of his league will follow those of the NBA instead of college — 12-minute quarters and a pro 3-point line.
It’s unknown what the NBA and NCAA response will be to this league, but it’s unlikely that either entity will be thrilled about it.
The JBA is of course mostly a direct competitor to the NCAA with it’s offer of money (instead of having to attend classes for a year while others profit) for the best prospects, but it’s also a pseudo shot across the bow of the NBA G League.
That currently stands as the only way players who want to skip the NCAA can play professionally without leaving the country.
The G League and NCAA both don’t have any power over LaVar specifically, but his plan to use NBA arenas will be one potential area where either league (or the NBA directly) could opt to flex it’s muscle and try to keep LaVar from having a place for his players to play.
It’s unlikely that would stop LaVar, who has a Joker-like desire to watch institutions squirm and burn, but it might leave a hit on the prestige of his NCAA and G League competitor at the very least. Whether it matters, or what other steps the leagues might take, remain to be seen.