Basketball: NZ Breakers optimistic over luring US talents LiAngelo Ball, Bronny James to ANBL

NZ Breakers are optimistic over luring not just one, but two US basketball talents to Aotearoa, after being linked with LiAngelo Ball and prodigy Bronny James - son of NBA icon LeBron.

LaVar Ball - father of current NBA players Lonzo and LaMelo - says middle son LiAngelo is interested in heading to New Zealand to play for the Breakers.

Foregoing the US college system, LiAngelo Ball has been playing in the American G League, the NBA development competition.

The Breakers have already proven themselves to be a worthy destination for US talent.

Earlier this month, star guard Jarrell Brantley was signed by Utah Jazz after one season in the ANBL, as the Breakers came within a game of winning the 2022/23 championship.

Brantley, as well 'Next Stars' RJ Hampton and Ousmane Dieng - both drafted to the NBA after seasons in New Zealand - have shown that the Breakers are an appealing destination for players wanting an opportunity to break into or even return to the NBA.

While LaVar Ball's comments came out of the blue, announcing his son's interest in the Breakers on Mai FM, the interest is mutual. 

According to Breakers general manager Simon Edwards, their recent history speaks for itself. 

"Very exciting, not just for the Breakers, but for the NBL," Edwards told Newshub. "LaVar Ball does what LaVar Ball does.

"It kind of hit us from leftfield this morning, but we have been speaking about LiAngelo Ball, not just this season, but in seasons prior. With LaVar in New Zealand, it makes sense to have conversations with him.

"We're very fortunate that we can look back at history… going back to Spark Arena, with RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball playing against each other.

"Fast forward a few years and how successful the Breakers have been, it would be amazing, not just for the Breakers and the NBL, but for the sport of basketball in New Zealand."

Meanwhile, the Breakers are also optimistic over securing Bronny James.

Currently, American high school players need one season in either college or abroad, before they can declare for the NBA draft.

Bronny James, 18, is a projected top-10 player in the 2024 draft, but where he plays before then is still to be decided.

Edwards and the Breakers insist New Zealand should be an appealing destination for, not just Bronny, but his father 

"When you look at all the teams that have had Next Stars, the Breakers are the creme de la creme," said Edwards. "We had RJ Hampton, who went in the first round. 

"We had Ousmane Dieng, who was a lottery pick. It's looking very likely that Rayan Rupert will be [drafted] in the first round as well.

Bronny and LeBron James.
Bronny and LeBron James. Photo credit: Getty Images

"If there is a place for Bronny James to come and there's been success, the Breakers is the team.

"I think LeBron would look great in an actual playing jersey. He's said he wants to play with Bronny James, why not him turning out in a No.6 for the Breakers?

"If we can do that, I'd eat my hat, but what a story that would be."

Last month, James Sr became the NBA's all-time leading scorer, passing former Los Angeles Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.