Sports | May 28, 2019 6:06 pm

5-Star Hoops Prospect Opts to Play in New Zealand Instead of NCAA

R.J. Hampton signed with the Breakers of the Australian National Basketball League

R.J. Hampton poses for a portrait in 2019. (Cooper Neill/Getty)
R.J. Hampton poses for a portrait in 2019. (Cooper Neill/Getty)
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Instead of suiting up for Kansas, Memphis, Texas Tech or any other NCAA squad, R.J. Hampton will go pro in New Zealand before he takes his talents to the NBA.

Unlike other basketball players like Brandon Jennings, Emmanuel Mudiay and Darius Bazle who chose to play overseas instead of playing in the NCAA, Hampton is doing so for reasons that aren’t academic or eligibility related. After announcing he’d be forgoing his NCAA eligibility to sign a contract with the New Zealand Breakers of the Australian National Basketball League, Hampton posted a photoshopped picture of himself in his new jersey.

“My dream has never been to play college basketball,” Hampton said on ESPN. “My dream has always been to get to the next level and I think this was the best route for me to live like a pro and play with grown men every day and not kind of have to juggle books and basketball and focus on my main goal.”

In a piece on USA Today, columnist Dan Wolken argues the NCAA probably isn’t upset with Hampton’s decision.

“Whether it works out for Hampton or not, this is a basketball decision with no guarantees it will benefit his draft position or his long-term potential,” Dan Wolken writes. “But there wasn’t a guarantee either in coming to college, where some players like him have increased their value, others have decreased and some acted like they simply didn’t want to be there. And for the last group, the NCAA has been saying all along: Don’t come. It’s about time someone finally took them up on that.”

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