Carmelo Anthony says LaMelo Ball and Josh Giddey's contributions to the NBA has cemented the NBL Next Stars program as a proven pathway to the Association.

4 Jun
Dan Woods for

Carmelo Anthony is the latest NBA name to have thrown his support behind the NBL Next Stars program, and the 10x NBA All-Star believes not only that LaMelo Ball’s experience with the Illawarra Hawks was crucial to his development, but that Alex Sarr’s time with the Perth Wildcats has helped lay the platform for a successful NBA career.

Anthony was announced as an official ambassador for the Next Stars program on Tuesday morning and will become a member of an ownership group of a future NBL expansion side.

Commentator Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith has also recently been named the Head of Next Stars Player Initiatives in North America.

In an interview on Andscape, Anthony says the success of players like Ball and Josh Giddey have proven the Next Stars program as a genuine NBA pathway.

“This concept is proven. People may have questions about it but it’s proven. Josh Giddey is a major part in what OKC is doing. LaMelo Ball is one of the biggest superstars because of that,” Anthony said.

“He went over there and got a different mentality, a different mindset and brought that back to the US. He could say he did it, he has that experience and look at him.

“Alex Sarr, projected number one draft pick, he put the work in. He went over there, committed to being over there, put the work in and had a goal. His only one goal was to come back to the NBA Draft. It’s proven, so I don’t know how you cannot support that.”

Sarr has been seen as a near consensus number one pick for an extended period of time now, however fellow French talent Zaccharie Risacher is surging as a serious contender to be selected by the Atlanta Hawks.

Should Sarr or Risacher be selected, it will be the second year in a row a French talent has been taken with the number one pick, following the selection of sensation Victor Wembanyama by the San Antonio Spurs in 2023.

Sarr will also join a strong contingent of French former Next Stars in the Association, with Ousmane Dieng and Rayan Rupert currently contracted to Oklahoma City and Portland respectively.

Anthony believes Sarr checks all the boxes for abilities the new generation of center needs to possess to be an NBA success.

“I do think what Alex brings to the game, his skillset at that size and being able to put the ball on the floor, protect the rim, step out and knock a jump shot down, defend, those are all attributes you need,” Anthony said.

“If you’re that tall and that size you have to have all of those attributes, you have to be tough. He checks all those boxes, and especially when you talk about the league getting younger and younger.

“With that potential the sky is the limit. He already has the work ethic because he’s been a part of what it takes to develop and get better every single day. Him coming over here and keeping that work ethic, you don’t have to worry about that.”

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