It seems that the decision to play basketball in Lithuania was not the right one for LaMelo Ball, as the Eastern European jaunt has left him ineligible to play in the biggest and most prestigious high school basketball game, the McDonald’s All-American, which has highlighted numerous high school basketball all-stars over the years.
TMZ Sports says that despite the fact that Ball has re-enrolled in a high school program, he cannot participate in the McDonald’s All American Game which is televised nationally, and watched intently by scouts and college basketball fans everywhere. NBA stars like LeBron James and Magic Johnson have played in the game, and in 1977, Michael Jordan scored 30 points for the East team leading them to victory.
LaMelo is trying to regain amateur status, enrolling at Spire Academy in Geneva, Ohio, but a rep from the McDonald’s All American organization says Ball has played professionally, so he cannot be considered for the big game. “LaMelo Ball is a Professional Basketball player and has played professionally in Lithuania resulting in him being ineligible for the McDonald’s All-American Game.” The Ball family insists that LeMelo was not paid to play in Lithuania, but McDonald’s isn’t buying it.
LaMelo is hoping they will reconsider, but it turns out he is not out of the running for the Naismith Prep Player of the Year award, another sought-after basketball honor.
“As long as he maintains his amateur status, plays a full high school season and is in good standing with his team all season long, he’ll be considered just like any other HS candidate.”
However, CBS Sports is reporting that LaMelo and his father LaVar Ball are looking beyond high school accolades and aiming to play for a major college basketball program “like Duke, UNC, or Kentucky.”
Once upon a time Ball was firmly set on UCLA, committing to the school, but the deal was withdrawn when LaMelo left his amateur status behind in Lithuania. LaMelo’s status as an amateur is now being further challenged by playing professionally for his father in the United States for the JBA League. Add to that he has his own signature footwear deal, complicating where his status truly lies.
It’s possible that the Ball family will have more to prove to the NCAA if LaMelo is going to be taken on by a division I college basketball team. “Before [LaMelo]Ball left to play overseas, he was ranked by 247Sports as a five-star point guard prospect and one of the best overall talents in the Class of 2019.”