Big Baller Brand has given 16-year-old LaMelo Ball his own signature shoe. The Melo Ball 1s were released on Thursday with a commercial that features older brother Lonzo Ball rapping in the background:
EXCLUSIVE: LaMelo Ball becomes the first high school player to have his own sneaker.
Introducing the MB1 by BBB: https://t.co/36cm4RSv2R pic.twitter.com/m6bdbJrWIZ
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) August 31, 2017
This is Big Baller Brand’s second signature shoe, following Lonzo’s Zo2s. Don’t worry. LaMelo’s shoes won’t be as expensive as his older brother’s, which sell for $495. You can buy the Melo Ball 1s for the low, low price of $395.
This appears to make LaMelo Ball the youngest basketball player ever to have his own shoe.
The youngest Ball son is already a sensation before he even begins his junior season of high school ball. He scored 92 points in a game last season and spent the summer turning AAU games into a circus. He has nearly 2.5 million followers on Instagram.
Ball has already committed to UCLA, just like his two older brothers. He is considered a five-star prospect by most major recruiting services. ESPN has him ranked as the No. 7 overall player in the class of 2019. Rivals has him ranked at No. 17.
If Ball hopes to play at UCLA, there will be questions about his eligibility because of the shoe.
Is this an NCAA violation?
LaMelo’s father, LaVar Ball, issued the following statement to ESPN about LaMelo’s potential college eligibility following the release of his signature shoe:
“We’ll worry about it when we get there. Who cares? If he can’t play, then he can’t play. It doesn’t mean he’ll stop working out and getting better. … Maybe in two years they’ll change the rule and he’ll be able to the NBA straight out of high school.”
It doesn’t sound like the Ball family knows or cares about whether it’s committing an NCAA violation right now. That’s probably for the best, considering the NCAA rulebook is full of gray area, so it’s impossible to get a real answer on that at this point.
If Big Baller Brand is considered a family business owned by LaVar Ball, the NCAA is unlikely to take issue with a father giving his son money. If the NCAA views this as a player making money off his own image, LaMelo could have some eligibility issues:
Ex-compliance director on LaMelo Ball shoe: “It’s a huge red flag from a compliance standpoint and I don’t see how it would not affect him.”
— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) August 31, 2017
LaMelo still has two high school seasons left before he’s supposed to suit up for UCLA. Worst case scenario? LaMelo plays professionally abroad once he graduates instead of going to college. Get ready for Big Baller Brand to make a push in the Chinese market.
LaMelo Ball playing one year in China (while family tries to expand BBB in that market) instead of going to UCLA doesn’t sound far-fetched.
— Scott Phillips (@phillipshoops) August 31, 2017
Until then, remember that LaMelo is just 16 years old. It can’t be easy to deal with so much fame and attention at that age.