RJ Hampton moved the needle on Tuesday morning. Instead of going on ESPN's Get Up! and announcing he was committing to Kansas, Memphis or Texas Tech, the top-five prospect announced he is taking a different route. Hampton is skipping college basketball entirely and going to play in Australia's National Basketball League. Playing overseas emerged as a legitimate option for Hampton in recent weeks, after he reclassified from 2020 into 2019 in late April.
ESPN's Jonathan Givony broke down what the announcement means for Hampton, but what about the entities and programs connected to Hampton's decision?
Not the first time college hoops was spurned
Hampton is not the first player to make this jump. Brandon Jennings, the No. 1 prospect in the 2008 class, spent a year in Italy before entering the NBA draft. He made millions from Roma and Under Armour, put up middling numbers and was still drafted No. 10 the following year. Emmanuel Mudiay (No. 5 in the ESPN 100 for 2014) went to China for $1.2 million instead of SMU and played just 12 games due to injury. But he did put up impressive statistics and was picked No. 7 in 2015. Then there was Terrance Ferguson (No. 11 in 2016), who went to the NBL instead of playing for Arizona. He averaged 4.6 points and was drafted No. 21 the following year. Mudiay and Ferguson have carved out NBA roles the past couple of years, while Jennings played in the league for a decade. Brian Bowen also took this route, but he was ineligible to play college basketball.
And that's where Hampton comes in. There were whispers that some of the players who went overseas did it because they weren't going to be eligible to play college basketball; there are no such whispers with Hampton. He can clearly play in college, but is choosing to go to the NBL instead. The track record of Jennings, Mudiay and Ferguson overseas isn't great, but all rebounded to have NBA careers. Does Hampton succeed at a high level and make this a more palatable option moving forward?