LaVar Ball doesn’t seem to be bothered by the possibility of his son LaMelo being ineligible to compete in NCAA Basketball due to having a signature shoe. He recently spoke on the issue at LaMelo’s 16th birthday party.
The controversy arose on Thursday, August 31, when LaVar’s Big Baller Brand put the MB1, a signature shoe for LaMelo, up for preorder on its website at a price of $395. This is Big Baller Brand’s second shoe, with the first being the V02, Lonzo Ball’s signature shoe. That shoe costs $495 or $995 for a limited-edition version signed by Lonzo, and it’s also currently available for preorder.
LaMelo is going into his junior year at Chino Hills High School, and he’s currently the number-seven player for the class of 2019. He has already verbally committed to playing for UCLA.
The issue is the NCAA’s policy on athlete eligibility. Players in the NCAA are considered amateurs and aren’t supposed to receive any sort of payment for their play or their reputation in athletics. If LaMelo makes money off of his signature shoe, which is standard for any athlete that has a signature shoe deal, then that could be considered payment based on his athletic reputation.
LaVar is adamant that LaMelo will have a shoe and said that the NCAA can’t tell him when to release the shoe because it’s not his boss. Asked about the possibility that LaMelo is ruled ineligible and can’t play at UCLA, LaVar said that LaMelo would sit out for one or two years while LaVar continued to train him. After that, LaMelo could enter NBA training camps as a free agent.
Asked about LaMelo potentially playing internationally in Europe or Asia during that time, LaVar seemed to rule the idea out, saying that “everybody else” had to go to make money, but he and his family can make money without going anywhere. He said that what matters is whether someone can play at the NBA level, and that going to college and failing to live up to expectations would be worse than not playing at that level entirely.
If LaMelo was at all worried about the potential eligibility issue, he didn’t show it. When he spoke with reporters, he simply said that he had two years left at Chino Hills High School, and he would think about his NCAA eligibility when that time comes.