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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / December 17.
  • Lavar Ball Pulls LiAngelo Ball out of UCLA, Will Train for NBA Draft

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    By SEAN BOCK & ADAM ZAGORIA

    Lavar Ball has pulled his middle son, LiAngelo, out of UCLA and plans to prep him for the NBA Draft.

    “He’s not transferring to another school,” he told ESPN. “The plan is now to get Gelo ready for the NBA Draft.”

    “We learned today of LiAngelo Ball’s intention to withdraw from UCLA,” Bruins head coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “We respect the decision he and his family have made, and we wish him all the best in the future.”

    According to TMZ, which first reported the news, Lavar made the decision due to the indefinite suspension LiAngelo — and UCLA teammates Cody Riley and Jalen Hill — are currently serving because of his arrest in China last month on shoplifting charges.

    “There’s no need to break down a kid’s spirit for making a mistake,” Lavar told TMZ of the suspension. TMZ also reported that LiAngelo has not officially withdrawn from the school, but he’s at home and won’t return.

    “I haven’t told any of those guys,” Lavar told ESPN of the UCLA staff before Alford made his statement. “They didn’t tell me anything, so why am I gonna tell them.”

    Earlier this year, Lavar decided his youngest son, LaMelo, would be homeschooled for his remaining two years of high school. He has committed to UCLA beginning in 2019, but at this point it remains an open question as to whether he’ll ever suit up there.

    Lavar did say recently his kids didn’t need school and could train/prepare for the NBA without high school or college. But while LaMelo is considered an NBA prospect, like oldest brother Lonzo of the Los Angeles Lakers, LiAngelo is not.

    “When it comes to basketball and you’re good, you just better be ready for [NBA] training camp,” the elder Ball said on ESPN’s “First Take” in September in reference to youngest son LaMelo. “So they can’t stop me by saying, ‘OK, he’s not going to the NCAA.’ Who cares, he won’t go to the NCAA.

    Asked if LiAngelo was an NBA prospect, one NBA executive simply said, “No.”

    A second NBA scout said, “I don’t think he’s considered a prospect.”

     

    Lavar Ball has “meticulously designed and inspired” the “MELLO BALL 1” or MB1, which is available for sale on BBB’s website for $395. BBB calls the MB1 “the first signature shoe launched by a high school basketball player.”

    This has led to concerns over LaMelo’s college eligibility, as Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann detailed here.

    “The only thing they’re worried about is the money,” LaVar said when he pulled LaMelo from Chino Hills. “How you thinking about, not saying that the shoe looks good or nothing like that. The first thing they’re trying to say is how can we make him ineligible? This has never happened before so you don’t even have a rule for it. You’re trying to find one, to say we gotta make him ineligible because he can’t be making money off a shoe.”

     

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