Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball said during an interview at the JBA tryouts, the basketball league his father LaVar Ball is marketing as an alternative to college basketball, that he would have joined the JBA rather than play at UCLA for a year if the league existed at the time.
"Personally, for sure. I already knew I was an NBA lock, so to be able to play for money and get better at the same time—it doesn’t beat that," Ball told Rashad Milligan of RollingOut.com.
You can see the full interview below:
The JBA has held tryouts in Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and Atlanta, with upcoming tryouts in Philadelphia and Atlanta. The league will be funded by the Big Baller Brand, with LaVar Ball saying previously the JBA would pay its athletes anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 a month.
The JBA bills itself as "an alternative for young athletes who want to play basketball as a pro, without going through the NCAA college system" on its website.
None of the top recruits in the class of 2018, however, have signed up for the league.
As for Lonzo Ball's comments, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that the league started by his dad—which also features the Lakers rookie on its logo—would earn his approval.
As Andrew Joseph of For The Win wrote: "He's trying to sell the start-up league, and he wants to do what he can to get actual talent to come onboard. If money was the priority for Lonzo out of high school, though, he could have scored an overseas contract with an elite club—not in Lithuania."
Nonetheless, for people who believe that NCAA players should be paid, leagues like the JBA represent potential competitors for the NCAA and its amateurism model. The JBA is in its early stages, and Lonzo Ball himself acknowledged it would take time for the league to grow.
But given the growing movement to have college athletes paid and the ongoing scandals in college basketball, a paid alternative makes sense, even if the NBA potentially ends its one-and-done restrictions in 2020 and allows teams to draft players straight out of high school.