The two younger Ball brother have gone pro.
It was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski that LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball are considering signing with a Lithuanian Ball Club, Prienu Vytautas.
Story filed to ESPN with @DraftExpress: LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball are in serious discussions to sign professional basketball deals with Lithuanian club Prienu Vytautas. Club plans to decide in next 24-to-48 hours whether to finalize an agreement with the two American teenagers.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 11, 2017
Shams Charania of the Vertical then broke the news that the deal between the Ball brothers and the European club has been finalized.
Sources: LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball have turned pro, signing one-year contracts with first division Lithuanian team Vytautas. They will report to the club in early January.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 11, 2017
Based on Wojnarowski’s report, Prienu Vytautas is a lower-level professional basketball team in Lithuania.
Prienu Vytautas, or BC Prienai as it’s often called, is a low-level club from a small, non-English speaking village of roughly 10,000 people in southern Lithuania. The team has been grappling with financial issues and started the season losing eight of its first 12 games in the Lithuanian league.
It’s unlikely that the two teenagers will be able to play any real minutes in the Lithuanian league. But BC Prienai also plays in the less competetive Baltic league where they’re currently 4-1. The two will be able to see more playing time there.
This news comes months after controversies surrounded both brothers.
LiAngelo Ball along with two other UCLA teammates was caught shoplifting in China. The matter was resolved and he along with his teammates were released and sent back home. But because of the incident, the 19-year old middle Ball brother was suspended by the team. As a response to the suspension, LaVar pulled LiAngelo out of UCLA.
A few months earlier, LaVar also pulled LaMelo out of Chino Hills. He planned on home-schooling his youngest son while developing his son’s skills for college ball. But even that was unsure as questions of LaMelo’s eligibility emerged after his signature sneaker under the Big Baller Brand was announced.
LaVar Ball has explored the idea of the two younger Ball kids playing professionally overseas.
While “going pro” may sound flashy, the real situation is far from it according to Wojnarowski’s report.
The club plays in a 1,700-seat arena; 500 of those seats are reserved for team sponsors and their friends. Tickets cost around 5 euros.
The team has no general manager and doesn’t practice regularly due to the poor financial situation.
Currently, the team’s best player is likely the coach’s son, Edvinas Seskus, who was considered a huge prospect as a teenager but didn’t develop as expected, partially due to injuries.
Add that to the fact that both LaMelo and LiAngelo will need to adjust their games to the European style of play in order to flourish. Both are high-usage scorers that have questionable shot selections. They’re used to the AAU and high-school systems where stat-hunting reigns supreme.
This move to play in Europe is a continuation of both players’ unorthodox route to the NBA.
Photo from the OC Register