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HS Wants To Play Against LaVar Ball's Son So Badly, It's Willing To Pay To Do It

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After a year of playing in the wilds of Europe and in front of sparse crowds in his father’s Junior Basketball Association, LaMelo Ball is back playing high school basketball.

Unfortunately, some of his new school’s opponents refuse to play against him. One school, however, has offered to pay to bring Ball’s team to town for a game.

Ball, the youngest son of JBA founder LaVar Ball and brother of the Lakers’ Lonzo Ball, announced his return to high school in a tweet last week.

“I’ve decided to return to high school and complete my senior year. I thank my dad for the JBA Experience and playing overseas. I’ve been accepted to attend Spire Prep Academy in Geneva, Ohio where i look forward to earning my high school diploma and winning with my new team,” the 17-year-old tweeted.

Ball was a freshman phenom at Chino Hills High School in California, where he averaged 16.4 points per game on an undefeated team that won the state championship.

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As a sophomore, Ball averaged nearly 30 points a game for Chino Hills, including one game where he scored 92 points. He was one of the top high school prospects in the country.

However, his father pulled him out of high school after his brother, LiAngelo Ball, was arrested in China on Nov. 6 of last year for shoplifting while the UCLA basketball team — which LiAngelo was a member of — was in China for an exhibition. The charges were dropped, but LaVar Ball pulled LiAngelo out of UCLA and LaMelo out of high school to play ball professionally, first in Lithuania and then for his fledgling JBA.

LaMelo Ball missed his entire junior year, but now he has returned to school to graduate and play out his senior year at the SPIRE Institute, a private prep school in Geneva, Ohio.

His enrollment immediately propelled SPIRE into MaxPrep’s ranking of the top 50 teams in high school basketball.

In his first game Saturday, Ball had 21 points and 10 assists in a 96-84 win over the Hill School from Pottstown, Pennsylvania, reported MaxPreps.

However, two powerhouses — La Lumiere School in La Porte, Indiana, and Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia — have canceled their games with SPIRE because of Ball.

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“With the recent news that someone who has played professionally intends to play for SPIRE Academy, we are not comfortable moving forward with our game slated for next Tuesday against SPIRE,” school officials from La Lumiere said in a statement.

Oak Hill, the third-ranked team in the country, also canceled, with coach Steve Smith telling The Washington Post that regulations in Virginia could impact his players’ eligibility if his team played SPIRE because Ball played professionally.

Do you buy these schools' reasons for canceling their games against LaMelo Ball's team?

“I just told them, ‘We can’t jeopardize our school and our association and our affiliation with conferences,'” Smith said. “They understood. I said we can play them if (Ball) doesn’t play, but they weren’t willing to do that.”

St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey, also canceled its game with SPIRE, MaxPreps reported.

However, there is one school that wants to face Ball so badly it’s willing to pay for SPIRE’s visit.

Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix, where the Suns’ Deandre Ayton played high school ball, tweeted an invitation to SPIRE.

“Let’s get this set up, we will cover your flights and stay,” Hillcrest Prep officials tweeted Saturday, calling it a showcase of Ball against Kyree Walker, a 5-star small forward in the Class of 2020. The junior is the 14th-ranked high school prospect in the nation, according to ESPN.

As of yet, no game between Hillcrest and SPIRE has been scheduled. Because neither SPIRE or Hillcrest are sanctioned by a governing body, there would be no issue with Ball’s professional background.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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