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Marketing Expert Says LaMelo Ball Can Disrupt NCAA Regulations with Signature Sneaker

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LaMelo Ball left California high school to be homeschooled. (Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Crosswalk Productions)

In a world where young athletes are unable to profit from their likeness, a marketing maven says LaMelo Ball may be the catalyst for change. The youngest of Lavar Ball’s sons is a 16-year-old point guard, but he already committed to UCLA at 13. While he’s set to follow in his older brother Lonzo Ball’s footsteps, LaMelo will have a new challenge to take on.

The youngest Ball appeared in an advertisement for his signature sneaker under the family’s Big Baller Brand, the Melo Ball 1. The ad for the MB1s, which go for $395, could put him in violation of the NCAA’s rule prohibiting athletes from profiting from their likeness.

“An individual loses amateur status and thus shall not be eligible for intercollegiate competition in a particular sport if the individual (a) uses his or her athletics skill (directly or indirectly) for pay in any form in that sport;” Article 12 of the NCAA Division I Manual reads per Sports Illustrated. “[Or] (b) accepts a promise of pay even if such pay is to be received following completion of intercollegiate athletics participation.”

But according to Sonny Vaccaro, a former sports marketing executive known for signing Michael Jordan to his first sneaker deal, the Balls can sue the NCAA if they deem the former Chino Hills High School student ineligible.

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“This has the potential to change the landscape of amateurism, but I hope it’s resolved before the Ball kid gets to the NCAA,” Vaccaro told Bleacher Report Thursday, Oct. 19. “This is an obscene rule where they discriminately have control over individuals that they shouldn’t have control over in earning a living. This would create more turmoil in the right to earn, and is the ideal setup for what I believe athletes should have — the freedom to earn money off their God-given ability.”

According to Sports Illustrated, Ball’s suit can claim the non-profit regulatory organization and member schools have banded together “in an anti-competitive arrangement to prevent him and other players from being able to license their identity rights or ‘brand.'” Such an arrangement would break the federal antitrust law, he could argue.

Still, Ball may circumvent the issue altogether if dad LaVar sticks to his statements made in September.

“When it comes to basketball and you’re good, you just better be ready for training camp … Who cares?” LaVar said on ESPN’s “First Take” in September. “He won’t go to the NCAA. ‘Oh, he better go overseas.’ Why? All he gotta do is be faster and stronger. And when it’s time to prepare, we could sit out for as long as we want.”

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