Little Elm To The Pros
After tearing up the Nike EYBL circuit for 28.8 points in four games, R.J. Hampton, a silky-smooth 5-star floor general out of the Great State (Little Elm, TX) and ESPN's No. 5 player in the 2019 class swiftly turned down offers from Kansas, Memphis and Texas Tech to ink a professional contract with the New Zealand Breakers (yes, partially owned by PFT & Barstool Big Cat) of the Australia-based National Basketball League. While on ESPN's Get Up!, the 6-foot-5 floor general mentions how rookie sensation Luka Doncic served as an outlier to a different approach of preparing and getting to the NBA, and how frankly, "My dream has never been to play college basketball."
This move doesn't make Little Elm's Finest the first American-Born High School player to bypass the NCAA for an overseas deal. Knicks point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, Thunder G Terrance Ferguson, Jeremy Tyler, and Brandon Jennings all chose to jumpstart their professional careers early instead of being used as pawns in the NCAA's money grab. For those who automatically think negatively towards a kid who turns down a free college education, hold those assumptions. Rod Hampton, RJ's father, told 247 Sports: "This isn't a fly-by-night move. RJ could get into Stanford. He has a 1280 on the SAT and a 3.7 GPA. We aren't doing this for financial reasons or he has to do this, he could have gone to college." Really in all seriousness, who are any of us to tell someone not to do what's best for their career? Positives and negatives come with every decision; you just have to salute the young man for the immense courage and confidence it takes to go against the norm. Hampton's message to all the younger athletes is a simple one yet v. important and applies throughout, "You need to be yourself. You don't need to let others dictate who you are and how you play. Just take control of your future." Good luck soldier, hold it dine for Texas, Luv4MP.