LaMelo Ball has been rapidly improving since returning to the United States to finish out his high school career at Spire Institute in Ohio. Now, with one year until he is eligible for the draft, the youngest Ball brother returned overseas where he joined the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League.
Unfortunately for teams that are eager to get a closer look at Ball, they will be unable to scout him during practices because of league rules.
Teams previously got a look at Ball and fellow top prospect RJ Hampton during the NBL Blitz in Tasmania, but it turns out scouting the youngsters was against league rules at the time and could result in some fines for the teams that were in attendance.
From Jonathan Givony of ESPN:
The ban stems from an interpretation of the NBA’s no-contact rules, which prohibit teams from having contact with draft-ineligible players outside of a handful of approved settings, such as official games (including the Breakers’ matchups this week against OKC and Memphis), select college practices and international practices involving only international players. Ball and Hampton are currently considered draft-ineligible since they have not yet officially declared for the 2020 draft through the league office.
In addition, Ball and Hampton are not considered international players because of their legal residence’s leading up to their stints in the NBL.
Hampton and Ball also are not considered international players under current NBA rules, as they did not maintain a permanent residence outside of the U.S. for at least the three years prior to the draft. Therefore, practices for teams like the Breakers and Hawks that have a mixture of draft-ineligible players and players who have already been through the draft process are currently off limits to NBA scouts, based on the league office’s current rule interpretation.
Judging from his debut regular season performance, NBA teams are going to want to get a look at Ball as often as possible ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft.
During LaMelo’s highlight-filled performance, Ball became the first player in NBL history to have a double-double with five assists and no turnovers on debut. Not too shabby for the 18-year-old from Chino Hills. While the Hawks suffered a loss, Ball had a strong stat line with 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals, and no turnovers.
Up next for LaMelo and the Hawks is a meeting with the reigning NBL champion Perth Wildcats on Friday, October 11.