Earlier this month, NCAA President Mark Emmert spoke at the SportsBusiness Journal Intercollegiate Athletics Forum and posited that those who wish only to become professional athletes should steer away from college altogether. When asked his opinion on LaVar Ball’s decision to pull his middle son, LiAngelo Ball, from UCLA to go pro, Emmert said initially that it was not his place to respond but proceeded to challenge the situation, though passively.
“Is this about playing basketball or any other sport with that school’s jersey on, representing that institution or is it about preparing me for my career, my professional career as a ballplayer. If it’s the latter, you can do that inside a university and that might be a really good way to go,” he said. “But if you don’t want to and you don’t think you should and you don’t think that’s right for your family then don’t come. Don’t be a part of this. Don’t muck around in the system. Just go. Have a good life. But let’s not confuse those two things.”
Emmert has since come under fire for critiquing the Ball family alone for using the one-and-done rule. The patriarch did not make an immediate response but when he did, it was accompanied by an initiative. Ball said, “He was right. Those kids who are one and done, they shouldn’t be there with the NCAA trying to hold them hostage.” The now father of three pro athletes told ESPN’s Darren Rovell that he’s launching a league for nationally ranked high school graduates who are not considering college so much as a pro career.
Ball’s “Junior Basketball Association” will be funded by his Big Baller Brand. He will recruit 80 players for 10 teams to play at NBA arenas in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Dallas. Players will also receive compensation—the lowest ranked player will receive a $3,000 monthly salary and the highest ranked player will earn $10,000 a month. The rules are entirely his own. But otherwise, Ball’s league will follow NBA guidelines in that there will be 12-minute quarters and a three-point line.
As a catch, all players must agree to wear BBB clothing. Ball said, “They’ll be wearing our uniforms, our shoes, our T-shirts, and our hoodies.”
As of now, Ball doesn’t have any players or venues in mind but he intends to use the figure of his eldest son, Lonzo, in the air pre-dunk as the logo. He acknowledges that launching the team will be a task but it seems that he is ready to put in the work.