LaMelo Ball to enroll at Spire Institute, again play high school basketball
After playing professionally in Lithuania, LaMelo Ball is returning to high school basketball and will enroll at Spire Institute in Ohio.
"I'm excited to return to school and rejoin my class on the court for my senior year," Ball told SLAM Magazine. "Playing in international competition was a great experience. I learned and matured so much. I appreciated the JBA experience my dad provided for me. I think it helped my development. I can't wait to play with my peers."
Justin Brantley, Spire's associate academy director, told ESPN that head coach Jermaine Jackson has trained Brandon Ingram, who plays with Lonzo Ball on the Lakers, the past few summers. He said that relationship helped bring both sides together.
"My understanding is [LaMelo] was looking to relive that high school experience, looking to really focus on his game, as well as his education, and graduate," Brantley said. "It's more so of a feeling-out process to make sure it was the right fit all the way around, make sure we can help him, make sure we can provide him what he needs socially.
"Basketball is the furthest thing from his mind [in this decision], because he can develop somewhere else. It's all the components that Spire provides."
Ball was ranked as a five-star prospect in the class of 2019, but withdrew from Chino Hills High School (California) last October. He and his brother, LiAngelo, then signed with BC Vytautas in Lithuania.
The brothers returned to the United States this past summer and played in the Junior Basketball Association, a league run by their father, LaVar.
"He's a scorer, he's a player, he's a facilitator," Brantley said. "I've watched games and seen him rebound. I've watched games where he gets players involved around him. I've watched games and seen him score. When you have someone that brings all three tools to the table, I'm ecstatic about it. It just really adds to the dynamic of what we're creating and producing here."
Brantley told ESPN that Ball was not compensated and never received payment for playing in Lithuania or in the JBA, keeping him eligible to play this season.