All eyes will be on Ballarat Friday, with the city to host an NBL preseason encounter between two of the league's most talked about clubs.
A handful of the competition's highest-profile personalities will christen the floor at the Ballarat Sports and Event Centre when Melbourne United do battle with the Illawarra Hawks.
Among them will be teenage NBA prospect LaMelo Ball, who sent shockwaves through the Australian basketball landscape in June by agreeing to a one-year deal with the Hawks. His signature garnered world-wide attention and had an estimated reach of 1.6 billion people, further solidifying the NBL as a destination for top-flight talent.
Ball played his first game for the club, chipping in with 12 points, in the Hawks' 110-87 win over the Australian Indigenous Basketball All-Stars on Saturday night. But the squad will face stiffer opposition against a Melbourne United outfit fancied by many as the favorites for the upcoming season.
United bolstered its line-up in the off-season with the acquisitions of last year's leading scorer Melo Trimble and three-time NBL champion Casey Prather. Former Australian Boomer Mitch McCarron will likely feature prominently in the squad which will be without sharpshooter Chris Goulding who is playing in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
The team will also include Ballarat native Sam Short who is hopeful of seeing game-time following a stellar year as a member of the Ballarat Miners. He told The Courier it was exciting to be able to showcase this level of talent to his hometown.