High Schol Star RJ Hampton to join NBL’s New Zealand Breakers

From nbl.com.au :

US teen sensation RJ Hampton will join the New Zealand Breakers as part of the NBL Next Stars program.

Hampton, 18, is the number three ranked point guard in ESPN’s 2020 Draft Class Rankings and is the sixth highest ranked prospect overall, making him the highest ranked draft prospect to play in the NBL.

Hampton, who is widely considered a top prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft, announced his decision to join New Zealand live on ESPN’s Get Up.

From Little Elm High School in Texas, he averaged 30.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game as a sophomore and was a member of USA Basketball’s 2018 U17 FIBA World Cup Team.

Hampton received offers from some of the most prestigious college basketball programs in the United States including Duke, Kansas and Kentucky Universities.

The Next Stars program was introduced last season following the drafting of Terrance Ferguson by NBA team Oklahoma City Thunder after he elected not to go to college in the US, instead spending the 2016/17 NBL season with the Adelaide 36ers straight out of high school.

Brian Bowen Jnr became the first NBL Next Star when he played for the Sydney Kings last season and will be eligible for next month’s NBA Draft

NBL Chief Executive Jeremy Loeliger said: “RJ Hampton is one of the most exciting young talents in the basketball world and an upstanding young man who has all the hallmarks of a future champion.

“We are delighted he has chosen to spend the season with the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL as part of the Next Stars program and look forward to watching him develop on his way to a career in the NBA.

“The Next Stars program offers young athletes an alternative pathway to the NBA if they don’t go college. We want to play a part in making these young men the best that they can be in preparation for the NBA draft.

“Having a player of RJ’s calibre join will help attract other players and bring the league and other players to the attention of NBA scouts

New Zealand Chief Executive Matt Walsh said: “We are thrilled to have RJ Hampton join the New Zealand Breakers next season. To secure a player of his talent is a tremendous endorsement of our program and a coup for our club.

“The NBL is the best league in the world outside of the NBA and attracting a talent like R.J. is a testament to where our club and the league is on the world stage.

“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 NBA journey.”

Hampton said: “It’s an honour to be a part of the NBL’s Next Stars program and to be joining a team with such a successful history as the New Zealand Breakers.  I think it’s going to be the perfect next step for me as I continue along the path toward fulfilling my dream of playing in the NBA.

“I can’t wait to play for the Breakers and experience the NBL which has a reputation as one of the best leagues in the world outside of the NBA, and I’m also really excited about coming and spending some time in New Zealand  and Australia for the first time.

“But more than anything, I just want to get to work.  That’s what I’m coming there to do – continue to make a name for myself, show the world that I can take that next step to being a professional and playing against guys who have been doing this their whole careers, and I’m ready for it.”

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