By: Andrew Joseph, For The Win | January 15, 2019
The youngest Ball brother, LaMelo Ball, returned to the American high school scene as a longshot to ever play a college game. Those slim hopes just got worse on Tuesday.
According to a report from Forbes, LaMelo’s high school team, SPIRE Institute (Ohio), was slated to participate in the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., this week but dropped out when an “outside consultant” demanded a $10,000 appearance fee for LaMelo.
But when Greg Procino, who organizes the games at Hoophall Classic, received a request for an appearance fee in exchange for having Ball and SPIRE play at the event, Procino balked and SPIRE opted to go elsewhere. Procino said no one from the school or basketball program made the request, but at that it came from an outside “consultant.” Procino said this was the first such request he has received in 10 years of organizing games at the event.
“The school/program did not request money,” Procino wrote in an email. “An outside ‘consultant’ who requested the change in terms did have certain financial requests. We did not pay them to participate and SPIRE decided not to honor the original agreement for Hoophall Classic. We replaced SPIRE with The Patrick School after the final conversation took place. Games are being cancelled with Spire unless the terms are acceptable to the outside consultant.”
LaMelo had participated in the Hoophall West in Arizona last month in front of a capacity crowd. But according to Procino, nobody requested a fee for LaMelo’s appearance in that event.
Forbes went on to report that SPIRE believed that the consultant was LaVar Ball’s business partner and Big Baller Brand manager Alan Foster. For The Win reached out to Foster for comment, but did not receive a response. He also did not respond to Forbes’ attempts at reaching him.
LaMelo already has an expansive list of issues jeopardizing his NCAA eligibility. He signed with an agent. He played professional basketball overseas. He played professionally in the start-up JBA league. He has his own signature shoe and promotes Big Baller Brand on social media.
The Ball family — or their representatives — personally charging money for LaMelo to appear in high school tournaments would be another violation of NCAA guidelines. It’s why basketball programs have steered clear of LaMelo despite his legitimate five-star talent.
Upon dropping out of the Hoophall, SPIRE has scheduled to play in the The Grind Session in Kentucky.