Ball will join fellow high school prospect RJ Hampton in the nine-team Australian League.  

By Michael Shapiro
June 17, 2019

LaMelo Ball announced he is joining the Illawarra Hawks of the Australian National Basketball League during an appearance on ESPN's The Jump on Monday.

Ball is likely to forego college after Monday's announcement, playing in Australia as he prepares for the 2020 NBA draft. He signed a two-year contract with the Hawks but is able to terminate the deal early to play in the NBA.

"My agents did a ton of research on the options I had to play this coming season, and Australia really made sense for me," Ball told ESPN. "They have a really strong league, with excellent coaches and great players, including former and future NBA players, and great strength and conditioning programs. My goal is to be the top pick in next year's draft, and I feel they can help me reach that goal. Also, the timing of the season works well with the timing of next year's draft."

Fellow NBA prospect RJ Hampton will join Ball in the NBL. Hampton will play for the New Zealand Breakers, with both he and Ball joining the NBL's "Next Stars" program. 

Ball played for Lithuanian team BC Vytautas in 2018, averaging 6.5 points and 13 minutes per game. He then played for the Spire Academy in Ohio. 

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