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LaVar Ball announces ‘Big Baller League’ for high school grads who want to get paid

After Lavar Ball revealed he would be taking both of his youngest sons — LiAngelo (19) and LaMelo (16) Ball — out of school last week to bring them to the Lithuanian league, it appears that was just phase one of an even bigger plan.

Today, Ball told ESPN that he’s launching a basketball league for nationally-ranked players — like his sons — who have graduated from high school but don’t want to go to college.

If you take a second and abstain from pointing and laughing like most of the media does at every move he LaVar makes, the Big Baller CEO might actually be on to something.

The current NBA rules mandate that players spend a year in college — or elsewhere — before becoming eligible for the NBA. The last time players went to the league straight out of high school was in 2005, but this rule has been under review since it went into place.

With it being virtually impossible to make money in college, even though the NCAA is a billion dollar industry, there aren’t many options for players with the talent to make money if it’s not overseas. The NCAA is thinking of modifying the rules so players can either enter the draft or spend two years in college — much like what the do in to college baseball.

So what’s LaVar Ball’s strategy?

Well, Ball already has a Junior Basketball Association which he says is fully funded by his Big Baller Brand. With a salary ranging from $3,000 – $10,000 a month for the lowest to highest ranked players, Ball’s plan is to fill 10 teams with 80 NBA hopefuls 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 says the league will have NBA and not NCAA rules, further preparing them for the pro game, citing his inspiration from NCAA president Mark Emmert, who was asked at a SportsBusiness Journal conference whether Ball was good or bad for the college game.

“Is this about someone being part of a university and 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,” Emmert responded. “If it’s the latter, you can do that inside a university and that might be a really good way to go. But if you don’t want to and you don’t think that it’s right for your family then don’t come.”

Ball agreed in his response to the NCAA president. “He was right,” Ball said.

“Those kids who are one and done, they shouldn’t be there with the NCAA trying to hold them hostage, not allowing them to keep the jersey they wear while selling replicas of them in stores. So our guy isn’t going to go to Florida State for a year. He’s going to come to our league.”

Though Ball admittedly has a lot of work to do — with no venues, set ticket prices or players yet — he confidently has the vision and the positioning to make it happen. If the one-and-done NBA rule does not change, LaVar will have a legitimate target audience of top tier talent that wants to get paid but wants to stay in the states.

We’ve already seen the success of Ice Cube’s Big 3 League, which had its first successful season this year, there’s no real reason why LaVar couldn’t start another league. If Ball is not successful, at the very least his venture will spark more ideas to avoid this particular issue.

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