Kezo Brown is going pro, will play in LaVar Ball’s JBA

Simeon's Kezo Brown (2) gets a reverse layup against Evanston. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

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.”


  • Paul

    I can’t believe a known racist La Var Ball is actually receiving. Wasn’t he the same guy who stated UCLA would have won the tournament if they didn’t have as many white players in the starting 5.

    He’s also made stupid comments about women.

  • […] all indications are that everything else is going according to LaVar’s JBA plan, including attracting top talent who prefer to earn a modest salary instead of being a so-called one-and-done player for a single […]

  • Mr. Rhee Alatee

    That’s your plan Kezo??? You may as well buy a lottery ticket.

  • A. Icus

    Bad decision by Kezo. He should go to Chicago State if that is still available to him. The information coming out is that all players will be making the minimum for just two months. That means Kezo’s pay for this upcoming season will be about $4,500 after taxes. Ticket sales don’t look encouraging. In Chicago, with fees, you’ll pay $57, $75 or $120 to see Kezo and a bunch of kids without better options play in a near empty arena. So far, fewer than 70 total tickets have been sold for the three Chicago dates (see TicketMaster). While tickets are being sold, player contracts haven’t even been signed yet. The contract is absurdly tilted in favor of Lavar and company. Because of that, two players are known to have pulled out and I suspect many more won’t be signing on the June 11 contract day (see

    If Chicago State will take him, and Kezo wants to legitimately extend his basketball career, there is nothing to even think about. Spare yourself the JBA disappontment, Kezo.

    • Derrick

      Nope. Once you play professionally, you can never play in college. The jba is a pro league becaue the players get paid.

  • hoops hardcore

    The real question is: what will the overall talent level of the players in the league? if they are all on this kids’ level none of them are rising to real professional leagues and teams. Kezo may have started out as a phenom and elite-type talent, but kids he used to be better than have surpassed him and are moving on to play in college. No one was talking about Talen Horton-Tucker when he was a freshman. Wanna know why? Because everyone was so busy talking about Kezo Brown. They are both seniors at Simeon. One won Player of the year and the other is searching for past glory in a make-believe league that will be defunct in less than 2 years. The G league needed gatorade to save it…and its backed by the NBA! Who backs this bush league for mid-level high school players? All the high level high school basketball players are opting for high level universities to further their playing careers. So it seems that the only kind of players this league will be getting is Kezo types: kids who are looking for an opportunity to prove to the world that they are better than the current level they are being recruited at…if they are being recruited at all. It feeds right into today’s basketball landscape…parents think their kid is better than he is. They make decisions based on this delusion. But in the end are left saying coaches are dumb and don’t know what they are doing. And this all happens because parent(s) are either ignorant or not honest about their kids’ talent level. I think if any kid wants to raise his game at any level…a structured school basketball program is still the best way to go….although clearly it isn’t the only way anymore.

  • Julian Kaye

    Love of the Game, it said the only freshman to log more minutes was Jabari Parker. If Evan’s minutes were monitored that doesn’t make the facts change. If he logged more minutes than Gilyard, then he did. Just wish Kezo the best and move on. I am sure he is doing what he thinks is best for him. I think going to college is the best way to do it, but maybe not for everyone. JKaye33

  • Jenny Simmons

    The graduation rate is a factor but a small one. You have to do the work to graduate from any college. Strive to be in that graduation rate whatever the percentage.

  • Bob Lambier

    This is so stupid. Like he’s actually going to see any money. This “league” will be cancelled after the first month, because nobody’s going to pay $100 to watch high-school dropouts play basketball. Scam artist Ball will disappear with the money, and the kids will get hosed. Who’d be stupid enough to buy a jersey for some kid no one will ever hear of again?

  • Tony

    This does not end well. Amateur status goes out the window, JBA collapses, no college basketball opportunity. Better be able to play your way into the NBA or overseas. But remember, out of the over 10,000 high school basketball players playing the game each year, only 6% go onto play in college and only 3 players ever make it into the NBA. Young men seeking to do something with their basketball better be stellar student athletes on the court and more so in the classroom.

  • […] league will pocket 40 percent of all player endorsements as an extra source of revenue. Via and USA Today […]

  • Born Conscious

    Congrats. I like the JBA, I just hope Lavar doesn’t mess it up he can be a bit overwhelming at times. These athlete’s needed other outlets to make it to the NBA and provide for their families. I like the idea of College because education is King but being able to provide for your family is God!

  • LaVar Ball

    Did you not read the first two paragraphs? MO’B’s points is exactly that hundreds of kids do this each year for baseball and no one says anything about them, but it’s immediately appalling if a basketball player does it. Judging from the article, his parents are in his life and maybe this is the best thing for him right now. He can always go to college in a couple years – one doesn’t have to go right at 18.

    • A. Icus

      The difference is that minor league baseball is affiliated with MLB, is made for developing young players in a progressive system, and is a well-established path to MLB for kids right out of high school. The proven path to the NBA for kids who are good enough is the NCAA. Aside from the education, it offers better coaching, more public exposure and the NBA knows where to look for up and coming prospects. The JBA is none of that. It is a pipe dream of Lavar Ball’s because he made dumb decisions for his two youngest and thought he’d stick it to the establishment while also making a place for Melo to play.

  • Love of the Game

    He was not the only freshman to log more minutes than Jabari. Yes he only played Varsity but there was another freshman that played Varsity and Freshman 6 quarters, his minutes were monitored closely on freshman team to assure time on varsity. Evan Gilyard. Simeons history includes EG3. IJS Stop it with that made up history!! Good luck on your next adventure!

  • bobby

    absolute joke.

  • Jay

    Way to go lavar! Vount me in as i will be coming to some of your games

  • Reggie Reed

    Ball Out!!

  • Reggie Reed

    I wish him the best!! I’m sure this opportunity will open doors for him and the BBB.

  • PistolPete44

    This is sad that the kid is not getting a ciollege education and playing college ball. This is what happens when you make excuses for mistakes in life and try to paint it as a good thing.

    • T I

      He is getting a college education and playing ball as a pro. Reading comprehension is essential when commenting on an article.

    • Paul

      The lack of leadership in this kid’s life is glaring. I wish him all the luck but I would hate to see what’s going to happen to him if he fails.

      • Tony

        My brother is in the same situation with his youngest son and baseball. My nephew, who was a solid player, played D2 baseball at a small school in Illinois after being recruited by ACC and Big 10 schools. But he failed to focus on his grades and never took his ACTs so the D1 schools backed off. One of those schools is not known for high graduation rates for its athletes either. My brother was hell bent on my nephew turning pro and throwing the “this is God’s plan that he turns pro”. My nephew was invited to and recently tried out for an independent league team. Not sure where that is going. But it all comes down to the sad story of parents trying to live through their children and hoping that the child will be a professional athlete bringing wealth to the family, instead of working the higher percentage of going to a viable education track that leads to a solid career track.

    • Wscfantoo

      Chicago State isn’t exactly a real college education. About an 11% graduation rate?

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