LaMelo Ball and his manager Jermaine Jackson have purchased his Australian NBL team, the Illawarra Hawks, Jackson told ESPN on Thursday.
“We own the team,” Jackson said. “It’s a done deal.”
Ball arrived in Australia in August as part of the league’s Next Stars program and established himself as a potential number 1 draft pick in the 2020 NBA draft. The 6-foot-7 point guard averaged 17.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists in 12 games with the Hawks, posting back-to-back triple-doubles before a foot injury ended his season.
“Melo loves the Illawarra fans,” Jackson told ESPN. “He loves that community. They opened their arms to him. They made us feel like we are at home. When we started hearing about the issues they were going through, we talked about it and decided, ‘Let’s own the team.’
“He is going to be locked into his NBA career, but we are going to hire the right people to oversee everything. He wants to create the best basketball program possible for that community there.”
Jackson, who spent five seasons in the NBA along with stops in Italy, Spain, Greece and elsewhere, told ESPN that he expects there to be significant interest from the next generation of American stars in following in Ball’s footsteps.
“When high school kids hear LaMelo owns the team, they will want to come,” Jackson said. “They’ll know they will be taken care of. We’re going to put the organization on steroids, building it into a program that guys want to play for. I’m in touch with several former NBA GMs that want to go there to help out and high-level coaches that won every championship you can imagine.”