NBA draft 2020: Five things to know about Bucks’ R.J. Hampton, who played in Australia’s NBL
Like LaMelo Ball (who went third overall), R.J. Hampton opted to bypass college and play overseas before declaring for the 2020 NBA draft, where he was taken by the Milwaukee Bucks with 24th pick.
Hampton, a 6-foot-5 guard, played a season for the New Zealand Breakers of Australia's National Basketball League for what he called a "small pit-stop in my career."
By playing overseas, his playing time was limited but challenged. His game may have been better spotlighted if he played in the NCAA. But the 19-year-old from Little Elm High School in Texas, is an elite athlete with good size and athleticism fit for the NBA.
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Here are five things to know about the 2018 ALL-USA High School Basketball first-team star:
R.J. Hampton played for the New Zealand Breakers in Australia last season. (Photo: Justin Ford, USA TODAY Sports)
What colleges did he consider?
Hampton was a five-star player recruited by top NCAA Division I programs. His list of potential college destinations included Kansas, Memphis, and Texas Tech.
Why did he skip college?
Hampton believed playing overseas was his best path to the NBA.
“I think that I just wanted to experience something different than what everyone else was doing," said Hampton in August 2019. "Everyone goes to college. Everyone plays in March Madness. … And I felt like the best route for me was going overseas and playing professionally to get me ready for the NBA. … You only have one shot at this, basically, to make it to the NBA and make it to be a professional basketball player."
And along the way, he earned $500,000 in salary and incentives for the one season, according to a report.
The Unicorn Fam
Hampton is part of the Unicorn Fam, a cadre of top-tiered prep basketball players with rare skills for their age. Others in this group include draft prospects Jalen Green, the founder, James Wiseman, Vernon Carey Jr., Jalen Suggs and Zion Harmon.
Hampton's presence, along with Ball, helped the NBL reach several attendance and viewership records this season. The first matchup between the two young stars was watched by more than two million people in the U.S. on Facebook Watch, the most-watched game in NBL history.
Hampton won gold medals playing for the U.S. national team in the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup. As a member of the 2017 USA Men’s U16 National Team, he averaged nine points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in five games.
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