NBL Next Star RJ Hampton says playing with the New Zealand Breakers last season gives him an edge over some college players in next month’s NBA Draft.
Hampton bypassed multiple high-profile division one colleges to play in the NBL last season, a decision he believes helps his prospects in the NBA Draft.
“I think the overseas experience helped me a lot,” Hampton said in a draft combine media session.
“Playing against grown men, being on a professional team, I think that’s enough in itself.
“I feel like with my basketball play, learning how to be a pro and learning some things that I think I wouldn’t have learnt in college.
“I definitely think that going overseas and being professional for a year and playing against grown men definitely gives me a little bit of an edge over some college players.”
The Texas native is also confident his robust attributes will hold him in good stead amongst the draft’s guard class.
“I feel like I’m one of the, if not the, fastest guard in the draft, the most athletic guard in the draft who can do a lot of different things,” Hampton said.
As part of his NBL career, Hampton played in two NBLxNBA games with the Breakers last year.
Competing against the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder assisted with Hampton’s growth and he says it’s another benefit of becoming an NBL Next Star.
“It helped me a lot, being 18 and playing against an NBA team, a lot of 18-year-olds don’t get that opportunity,” Hampton said.
“It was definitely a learning experience and it’s been over a full year since that happened, so I think I have grown so much since then.”
Hampton has been rising up the draft boards in recent weeks, with The Athletic draft expert Sam Vecenie placing him at number 12 in his most recent mock draft.
This is a rise from pick 21 in Vecenie’s previous mock draft, with him writing “it’s hard for me to see him (Hampton) getting outside of the lottery at this stage”.
Vecenie added Hampton’s range “seems to be anywhere from No. 7 down to No. 15 or so”.
The NBA Draft is scheduled to take place on November 18.