By George Economus
Lavar Ball is making headlines once again. Not because of his shoe brand, his sons, or his reality facebook show, but because of Lavar’s new JBA league, an alternative path to the NBA rather than the traditional NCAA college system. Lavar released the schedule for the JBA last week and the inaugural season will commence in mid June and conclude in early August this year.
The JBA will consist of 8 teams of 8 players. There will be teams located in Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Lavar and the league laid down some initial information and rules: Players will be paid as junior professionals while playing with the league, players must be graduating high school seniors or working towards a GED to compete in the league, and participants must also be 17-19 years old.
Headlining the new league is Lavar’s youngest son LaMelo Ball. LaMelo dropped out of high school last year along with his older brother LiAngelo, who was suspended indefinitely from UCLA for stealing from a Louis Vuitton store in China, to play professional basketball overseas for BC Vytautas. Their oversea careers concluded when LaMelo, LiAngelo, and Lavar did not see eye to eye to their head coach.
Other players and team rosters are just now being determined and released by the league. Some released names include Semaj Booker, Brandon Abibou, Josiah Cotton, Zeke Crawford, Greg Floyd Jr, Taylor Kirkham, Niles Malone, Curtis Hollis, Cameron Massey, Devin Mitchell, Courtney Murrell, Jonathan Ogugua, Calvin Williams, Corey Boyd, Fionn Brown, Isom Butler, Nigel Chaney, Jordan Ray, Zack Crockett, Braydo Hargrove, and Marquis Johnson
The questions now are: will this league be able to survive past its inaugural season? and will more quality prospects decide to forego the NCAA for the JBA?
I do think that the JBA will survive past their inaugural season, but I don’t know if they will be able to get more quality players. Right now the JBA has two players, that we know of, who are “quality” prospects: LaMelo Ball and Greg Floyd Jr. LaMelo Ball was a former UCLA commit before his dad forced him to move out of the states to play professional ball overseas. Greg Floyd Jr. was a 4-star high school player who committed to Long Beach State and had offers from schools like Arizona, Virginia, Purdue, and USC.
If the JBA wants more high quality players, they are going to have to show us they can send players to the NBA. If LaMelo and Greg Floyd Jr. get drafted or picked up by NBA teams in a year of two, it may help sway some players currently on the line.
Right now this league feels like the XFL did, a group of players who aren’t quite good enough to play big conference college basketball. However, if this league shows the ability to develop players and get them into the NBA, college programs may start to go downhill. The JBA needs to bring in bigger names if they want to be successful. They will likely have solid high school stars, who did not have many big school offers, looking for a chance to show off their skills to NBA scouts this season. However, if all goes well this year things may change, they may add a few All-Americans and big recruits to their teams.
All we can do now is watch how this all goes. This league can be a one and done, or it may be a successful way for current one and done players to transition to the NBA. I personally think that if this league is a success, it will also benefit college programs in the long run. College basketball will be college basketball again. There will be more Christian Laettner like teams and less one and done type players, allowing fans to really get behind players and programs. In the long run, all we can do is watch and see how Lavar will handle and develop his league.