Tuesday, 22 October, 2019

R.J. Hampton to skip NCAA basketball, play in New Zealand

RJ Hampton at the SLAM Summer Classic in 2018 Enlarge Image RJ Hampton at the SLAM Summer Classic in 2018 Getty Images
Shannon Reynolds | 30 May, 2019, 12:44

"I want to live like a pro, play and prepare myself like one, too".

"What this avenue is for R.J.is a chance to get paid as a professional with a team that's willing to develop him as a player", ESPN broadcaster Fran Fraschilla, well versed in all things global basketball, told the Journal-World shortly after Hampton's announcement.

"Anytime you have a high-level, ranked player like RJ, homegrown guys that are leaving the country to go play somewhere else, I think they have to take a look at if they have to make a change", said Matt Walsh, the Breakers' part-owner and managing director.

Hampton is projected to go in the lottery in most 2020 mock drafts.

Recent history isn't on his Hampton's side, however, as notable prospects to go overseas include Brandon Jennings, ranked No. 1 in the Class of 2008 before dropping to the 10th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft after playing a year in Italy.

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Hampton will not count against the New Zealand Breakers' league-mandated quota of three import players, and he will also have part of his salary subsidized by the NBL. "I'm being put in a situation that is centered around me being successful and accomplishing my dream of getting to the next level". And I feel like this is a much better route for me. Their owners played in the National Basketball Association, and they told me their goal is to help me have a great experience in New Zealand and ultimately a great career in the National Basketball Association.

"Australia, I may get this off a little bit, but I think their population is around 24 million".

Hampton's agent, Happy Walters, has experience with placing draft prospects in the NBL, as he represented Ferguson in 2017 when he signed with Adelaide.

Consensus five-star point guard R.J. Hampton entered the week as the last uncommitted class of 2019 five-star talent. "Playing professional basketball as an 18-year-old will enable this development".

Hampton had significant interest from some of the NCAA's top programs including Kansas, Duke and Kentucky, but chose to take advantage of the NBL's Next Stars program which is created to attract players like Hampton. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the 2022 draft probably will be the first to allow players to be eligible straight out of high school since the league instituted the rule starting with the 2006 draft.

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