RJ Hampton Forgoes College Basketball To Play Professionally In New Zealand

RJ Hampton at the SLAM Summer Classic in 2018

Teen sensation RJ Hampton has forgone his USA college eligibility to sign with the New Zealand Breakers in a coup for the NBL.

ESPN college basketball commentator Jay Bilas said he believes it is unlikely there will be players following Hampton's path before the one-and-done era is over.

Hampton announced his decision on live television Tuesday morning with Jalen Rose and Mike Greenberg on ESPN's morning show, "Get Up!". Both of my parents went to college.

The NBA is offering NZ$192,000 contracts to elite players coming out of high school to play in their development G League for a year before attempting to get drafted to the NBA.

"I just think that is a such a cool thing for him to be courageous enough to not just go with what the "normal route" is", Walsh said. He's now projected as a the No. 6 overall pick for the 2020 draft by ESPN.

"To secure a player of his talent is a tremendous endorsement of our program and a coup for our club", Breakers chief executive Matt Walsh said.

The commissioner said he understood Hampton's decision and paid Australia, New Zealand and the NBL a major compliment.


Hampton, who lives in Dallas, told ESPN that watching worldwide basketball phenom Luka Doncic with the Mavericks this season helped him realize the merits of exploring alternative development paths.

Social media has lit up after a United States journalist mistakenly called the Perth Wildcats the Perth Bandits in an opinion piece on NBL recruit RJ Hampton.

Bowen, who played for the Sydney Kings after his father was embroiled in the federal college basketball trial, was the first to enter the league via the Next Stars program.

"I feel like once I get to the next level, it's going to prepare me for all the other steps in life", Hampton said of getting a jump-start on his professional career. The Breakers were the best team for me.

Ferguson's successful stint in the NBL resulted in the league starting a program called "Next Stars", in an effort to attract more talented American prospects looking to bypass college for a professional career.

"We think RJ will have an important role to play as we look to compete for a championship and give him a great taste of what is a world-class league and provide an ideal platform for his National Basketball Association journey".

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