LaMelo Ball is off on another untraditional path.
The potential No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, who bypassed college and spent the past season playing in Australia’s NBL, has become a part-owner of the league’s Illawarra Hawks — who Ball played for — with his manager, Jermaine Jackson.
“We own the team,” Jackson told ESPN. “It’s a done deal.”
Ball, 18, appeared in only 12 games with the Hawks before suffering a season-ending foot injury, but showcased his gifts to scouts while averaging 17.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists. The 6-foot-7 point guard, a former UCLA commit like his older brothers (Lonzo, LiAngelo), was part of the NBL’s Next Stars Program, in which he earned roughly $68,400 and was provided a car, an apartment, air travel and individual development training.
Ball, who previously played in his father LaVar’s Junior Basketball Association, reportedly loved the experience in Australia and was eager to help the franchise, which was dealing with financial problems.
“Melo loves the Illawarra fans,” Jackson told ESPN. “He loves that community. They opened their arms to him. They made us feel like we are at home. When we started hearing about the issues they were going through, we talked about it and decided, ‘Let’s own the team.’
“He is going to be locked into his NBA career, but we are going to hire the right people to oversee everything. He wants to create the best basketball program possible for that community there.”
Ball had previously donated money to victims of the Australian bushfire and is interested in returning during future NBA offseasons.
“When Melo wants to do stuff in the summertime, we’ll be there,” Jackson said. “We’ll take a tour with his family all over Australia, doing basketball camps and connecting with the youth. He wants to inspire the next generation.