LaMelo Ball won't be among the future NBA players competing in this week's Hoophall Classic.
Ball and SPIRE Institute were slated to participate in the annual tournament but were replaced after an outside "consultant" requested a $10,000 appearance fee, according to Adam Zagoria of Forbes.
Greg Procino, who organizes the games at Hoophall Classic, said this was the first time he's received such a request in his 10 years working the tournament.
"The school/program did not request money," Procino wrote in an email to Zagoria. "An outside 'consultant' who requested the change in terms did have certain financial requests. We did not pay them to participate and SPIRE decided not to honor the original agreement for Hoophall Classic. We replaced SPIRE with The Patrick School after the final conversation took place. Games are being canceled with SPIRE unless the terms are acceptable to the outside consultant."
Procino said SPIRE participated in the Hoophall West event in Scottsdale, Ariz. in December, but no appearance fee was requested for that event.
Zagoria reports the "consultant" was Alan Foster, Ball Sports Group's managing director.
Jeff Orloff, chief operating officer of SPIRE, said he was made aware of the matter and that the school is investigating.
"We have not and did not and will not ask anybody to pay us to play," Orloff said, adding, "We're not represented by Big Baller Brand in any way so any conversation or deal outside of anything I would have done, we're not involved with. So if there was a conversation to anybody representing that they were SPIRE and wanted to be paid, we had nothing to do with it."
The Hoophall Classic will be held Jan. 17-21 at the Naismith Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. SPIRE, meanwhile, is scheduled to appear at the "Big Baller Beatdown" in Benton, Ky. on Jan. 19-20.