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Five-star senior guard RJ Hampton is bypassing college and has agreed to a professional deal with the New Zealand Breakers of the NBL, his father Rod Hampton told 247Sports.
“I think he’s ready, that’s why we weren’t going back to high school,” Hampton said. “It’s never been a dream of his to play college basketball, it’s been a dream of his to use college basketball as a vehicle to get to the NBA. … He’s playing against grown men. He’s learning how to practice like a pro, and learning how to do everything like a pro and I just think those options outweigh going to college.”
Hampton ranks as the No. 5 overall prospect and No. 2 combination guard in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. Kansas, Memphis and Texas Tech were vying for his signature after he reclassified in April to the 2019 recruiting class, but thats when his camp decided to revisit the opportunity to play professionally, one they had been presented with months earlier.
“I kept it on the backburner,” Rod Hampton said. “I want the public to know this isn’t a fly by night move. RJ could get in to Stanford. He has a 1280 on the SAT and a 3.7 GPA. We aren’t doing this for financial reasons or he has to do this, he could have gone to college.”
While Hampton isn’t the first to go from high school to a professional league, recent notables Terrance Ferguson and Emmanuel Mudiay had questions regarding their eligibility.
Hampton, whose family will join him in moving to New Zealand, becomes the first highly ranked prep player player to pick pro ball overseas over college. His move comes in contrast to the move made by Duke star Zion Williamson, who spent his one season of waiting for the NBA Draft at Duke, where he became a household name and is everyones choice to become the No. 1 overall pick in the June 20 draft.
“He’s setting a trend,” Hampton said. “He’s not doing this because it’s his only alternative.”
Hampton said his son was offered more than $1 million from a professional team in China. He said they also received offers from teams in Europe. In the end, Hampton liked the fit with the Breakers.
“It’s an English speaking country,” he said. “You’re going from Texas to New Zealand and they have a really good partnership with the NBA. His team plays two games against NBA teams this year.”
I would have liked to see him in a Jayhawks uniform next season but I definitely admire his honesty and courage making this move. And Im guessing his million+ will be tax free? Even if not, thats a lot of money for doing what he loves, playing for a team that will undoubtedly revolve around him. Itll be interesting to see if others follow his lead.
Hampton didn’t disclose the details of the contract, but noted it surpasses what the G League would offer and said they’re working to solidify a shoe deal.
Prior to making his final decision, Hampton called Ferguson for advice. The current Oklahoma City Thunder wing played in the same league but for a different team, the Adelaide 36ers.
I feel like once I get to the next level, its going to prepare me for all the other steps in life,” Hampton said of getting a jump-start on his professional career. “Youre a pro now, you have to be a grown man, there might be a 27, 28-year-old on the team with a family. So you just have to live like a pro and act like a pro.
“He’s talked to Terrance Ferguson and he’s had a conversations with different guys in college that it didn’t pan out for them for whatever reason,” Rod Hampton said. “I just think he’s at the level he soaks things up so fast, he’s going to grow so much more and I think he’ll grow more playing in a professional league than college.”
On the show, Greenberg pointed out that the move for Hampton was not an academic issue like that of current NBA players Brandon Jennings, Emmanuel Mudiay and Terrance Ferguson, who spent a year overseas after high school because of their grades. Greenberg said Hamptons GPA was 3.7 and that he got a 1280 on his SAT.
“He’ll definitely be more prepared for NBA life than if he went to college, and don’t get me wrong, but this isn’t for everybody,” he added.
Hampton, a standout at Little Elm (Tex.) High, played in the first Nike EYBL session in April and averaged 28.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists in four games. Known for his skill set, Hampton is a gifted scorer that has the ability to be effective playing on or off the ball.
The Breakers have always been a team thats punched above our weight, and we feel were ready to take the next step, said team owner Matt Walsh in a news release hinting at an exciting announcement from the franchise.
“He knows this isn’t going to be a cake walk,” Hampton added. “When the opportunity is there you have to seize it. He’s thinking anything could happen in college. He could be the No. 10 pick or the No. 1 pick and he can go over there and be the No. 10 pick or the No. 1 pick, but I think just learning the rigors of a professional athlete day in and day out minus the classwork and everything that comes with college is what he wants to do.”
Twitter LogoCopy Link IconCollege Basketball Recruiting5-Star Duke Target RJ Hampton Forgoes College to Play for New Zealand BreakersRob [email protected] LogoFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2019 CommentsComment Bubble Icon
Good luck to RJ. This looks like a good choice to me. I got to see Perry Ellis play in this league a couple of times. A 5-star will stand out athletically but the game is closer to the NBA pre-splash brothers.
After reclassifying to the 2019 class, 5-star guard RJ Hampton announced Tuesday that he will play professionally in New Zealand next season rather than playing collegiately.
Hampton said on ESPNs Get Up! that he will play for the New Zealand Breakers of the National Basketball League of Australia.
“My No. 1 goal is to play in the NBA. I wanted to be an NBA player before I ever wanted to be a college player. This is about getting ready for the next level faster and more efficiently. Both of my parents went to college. My mom got her masters degree. Education is a big thing in our family, but this is about focusing 100 percent on basketball. You can always go back to college, but theres only a short window as an athlete where you can play professional basketball, and I want to take advantage of that. I think that challenging yourself on a daily basis is the best way to improve.”