R.J. Hampton skips college to play professional basketball in Australian league


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.

"Luka Doncic is one of my favorite players to watch", Hampton told ESPN.

Hampton joins fellow Americans Terrance Ferguson and Brian Bowen II to forgo USA college and play in the NBL ahead of their draft year.

"I think (the NBL) was the best route for me - to live like a pro and to play with grown men and not have to juggle books and basketball, and just focus on my main goal".

Ferguson also played in Australia after high school and was selected 21st overall by Oklahoma City in the 2017 NBA Draft. He's now projected as a the No. 6 overall pick for the 2020 draft by ESPN.

Hampton, who lives in Dallas, told ESPN that watching global basketball phenom Luka Doncic with the Mavericks this season helped him realize the merits of exploring alternative development paths. "He'll play in a league with men that has a lot of former NCAA college stars, some former National Basketball Association players and Australian professional players and it's a good league".

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Hampton was one of the most sought after players in the States, but chose to start his professional career with the New Zealand ANBL club.

"I just wanted to kind of set the trend", Hampton said. "(It's) not for everybody, but I think it's a better route for me".

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. The Breakers were the best team for me.

That kind of money could transform the Breakers, although no doubt the team's management will be hoping the arrival of Hampton will help sell out Spark Arena for the next two seasons.

Thus ends one of the most highly visible recruiting battles in recent memory at Kansas. And given the fact that Hampton reclassified from the 2020 class into the 2019 class only to forego college altogether, it was bigger even than KU's pursuit of Andrew Wiggins, Josh Jackson and others like them.

Hampton joins a team that has won four NBL championships since 2011, but the Breakers missed the playoffs in 2019 after a 12-16 season.

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