If Kezo Brown played baseball no one would bat an eye at the fact that he was going pro after high school. It would be the common career path.
But Brown plays basketball, so he and his family are prepared for the backlash that will likely come now that he’s joining LaVar Ball’s new professional basketball league, the Junior Basketball Association (JBA).
“I’m sure we are going to get scrutinized for doing this, but you have to think about it,” said Marquis Brown Sr., Kezo’s dad. “He’s still going to go to school, just online.”
The JBA has been holding tryouts all over the country for the past two months. Brown will play for the Chicago team, the Chicago Ballers. He’ll sign a two-year, non-guaranteed contract at a press conference in Los Angeles in June.
“The opportunity arrived a couple days before the tryouts,” Brown Sr. said. “[Former Chicago State coach Tracy] Dildy called and said the JBA is having a tryout and he thought Kezo had a good chance of making it. We talked it over with his mom and then he went for the tryouts and got picked. More than 100 guys were there and they only picked two.”
Brown was a freshman phenom. The only freshman in Simeon history to receive more playing time was Jabari Parker. But then Brown missed his sophomore year with health issues. He returned and had a successful junior year and scored 26 points to lead the Wolverines to the city championship. He didn’t play this past season, his senior year.
“Kezo is on track to graduate,” Brown Sr. said. “It has been a big whirlwind. I think God has to put you through situations. Not everyone got this opportunity. We can name at least 10 players that would be happy to be in this situation.”
Brown originally committed to Chicago State, but after Dildy was fired Brown considered going to prep school. Brown Sr. said they’ve been told that Dildy will coach the Chicago Ballers.
“There are a couple guys that took this route recently and went overseas to play instead of college,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “The only difference is those guys were All-Americans. This is a great opportunity for Kezo.”
Brown Sr. said his son will make “between $3,000 and $10,000 a month.” The family has been looking over the JBA contract with a lawyer.
“One thing looked a little funny,” Brown Sr. said. “If you get any endorsements you get 60 percent and the JBA keeps 40 percent. They are going to sell Kezo’s jersey. They charge like $450 for shoes, so who knows how much they will charge for jerseys. As long as Kezo plays well I don’t think he will have a hard time selling 10,000 jerseys.”
The JBA has released a 16-date schedule. The first round of games will be at Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, California. Games will also be played in Texas, Atlanta, Virginia, New Jersey and Las Vegas.
The league will play at Wintrust Arena on June 26 and July 21 and Wintrust will host the All-Star game on August 2.
Every player on the team that wins the league championship will receive “a new Mercedes, BMW, or Cadillac” according to the JBA website.
“God gave me another chance again and I’m going with it and I’m taking it all the way to the top,” Brown said. “I’ve been playing in a men’s league but I’m itching real bad to get on the court and show people what I’ve been working on.
“I want to go to the G League after this or overseas or to the NBA. That’s my plan.”