LaMelo Ball currently ranks as one of the most sought-after up-and-coming NCAA prospects – but his college eligibility might be in jeopardy now, following the debut of his MB1 signature shoe under Big Baller Brand.
Having questioned the NCAA about the matter, ESPN were told by spokesperson Emily James that 'Generally speaking, a college athlete or prospect paid for use of their athletics reputation or ability risks their future eligibility in that sport… This includes profiting from the sale of items bearing the young person's name'. Prospects are allowed to promote a commercial product prior to enrolment, but only if the promotion is unpaid. These rules are why the middle Ball brother, LiAngelo, has been absent from all BBB promotion.
With reports saying that LaMelo is now driving around in his own Lamborghini (as seen arriving at his 16th birthday in the video below), it certainly seems like the 16-year-old is pocketing money from somewhere to live the big baller lifestyle – and we're pretty sure it ain't from flipping burgers on the side.
As the No. 7 prospect for the Class of 2019, LaMelo has some time to go until he's due to graduate from high school and seriously consider his court career. 'We'll worry about it when we get there,' LaMelo's outspoken father, LaVar, told ESPN. 'Who cares? If he can't play, then he can't play. It doesn't mean he'll stop working out and getting better.'
It's speculated that LaMelo may be able to make himself eligible if he retracts Big Baller Brand's right to use his name and likeness, though LaVar is hopeful that current NBA restrictions – which he thinks are more of a hindrance than a stepping stone – will eventually be lifted. 'Maybe in two years, they'll change the rule and he'll be able to go to the NBA straight out of high school,' LaVar said.
Though LaMelo has made a verbal commitment to sign to UCLA, the college has stated that they can't comment on any prospective student-athlete without a signed letter of intent. With NCAA eligibility officially assessed at the start of a student-athlete's enrolment year, we'll need to wait until 2019 to see whether LaMelo will be granted admission.