Lavar Ball is the father of professional basketball players Lonzo, LiAngelo and Lamelo Ball. However, his depiction should go much farther than just the father of basketball players. Lavar Ball is a businessman, who over the past few months has put some serious plans into motion. In June, Lavar’s oldest son Lonzo Ball was drafted second overall in the NBA draft to the Los Angeles Lakers. In October, Lavar removed his youngest son Lamelo Ball from Chino Hills High School to be homeschooled, in order to focus on developing as a basketball player. Lavar’s middle son LiAngelo, was arrested for shoplifting in China in November. At the time, he was a part of the UCLA men’s basketball team. After being suspended indefinitely, Lavar pulled him from school as well. Lavar devised a plan for LiAngelo and Lamelo to play professional basketball for Vytautas Prienai–Birštonas in the Lithuanian Basketball League, where they are currently playing.
After pulling two of his three sons from their schools, Lavar Ball now has put in motion a plan to start his own basketball league, the Junior Basketball Association. The JBA will consist of eight teams, made up of top high school prospects that don’t want to go to college before they go to the NBA. These top prospects that would rather play in the JBA instead of college will be able to be paid to play in this league. This idea is genius. Senior Christian Stewart said, “I think it’s a great idea. College athletes should be getting paid anyway, they produce extreme amounts of revenue every year and I think Lavar is capitalizing on it.” This new league has potential to be an enormous organization, and could change the game of basketball forever.
The NCAA has extremely strict policies against paying student athletes. For many top high school prospects, college is simply a gateway into the NBA and not a place to get an education. With the JBA, this allows these players to bypass college and immediately get paid to play. Sophomore Richard Wheatley said, “This is a great idea. Everybody doesn’t want to go to college and this provides a great opportunity for those players.”
The league is intended to consist of 80 players on ten teams. The teams will play in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Atlanta and Dallas. If top high school prospects gravitate toward the JBA, as an alternative to collegiate basketball, it could change the game forever. Lavar has claimed the lowest ranked player in this league will be paid $3,000 a month, and the highest ranked player will be paid $10,000 a month. If top prospects choose the JBA over the traditional route, the level of elite competition could potentially become significantly lower in collegiate basketball.
The JBA, like any other newly founded organization, has its critics, who mostly believe the traditional college route is the more promising. Senior Jalen Valentine said, “College is the better choice between the two because basketball isn’t always promised. The JBA doesn’t provide an education if basketball doesn’t work out.” However, the JBA’s target players are looking to get to the NBA and don’t necessarily care about the education.
Only a small portion of top recruits for the class of 2019 have committed to schools to attend once they have graduated. If players in this class such as Vernon Carey Jr. and James Wiseman agree to compete in the JBA, other players could begin to follow suit. With the incentive of payment available, it is very likely that players will begin to favor this league over college. Student athletes, for all sports, deal with exhausting schedules everyday and this league can provide some of these players with an opportunity to avoid that. For some top recruits whose main objective is to get to the NBA, this league is a great solution. They can earn the money they rightfully deserve while focusing on their craft.
So far the JBA does not have any teams, but the league is still in its early stages of development. The potential of this league is enormous. Lavar Ball is a genius in his own right, and is doing an impeccable job of growing and marketing his own brand.