Tuesday, May 28, 2019

5-star target R.J. Hampton passes on KU to head overseas

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting


After a handful of college visits and weeks of breaking down the few programs on his list of finalists, 5-star prep prospect R.J. Hampton has decided to turn pro.

No, Hampton has not found a loophole in the NBA’s age restriction. Instead, the 6-foot-5 guard from Little Elm, Texas, ranked No. 6 overall in the 2019 class by will be heading to the other side of the world to play at least one season of professional basketball with the New Zealand Breakers of the Australian National Basketball League.

Hampton announced his decision on live television Tuesday morning with Jalen Rose and Mike Greenberg on ESPN’s morning show, “Get Up!”

Hampton, who later in the day during various interviews said Kansas would have been the choice if he had elected to go to college, chose a short-term deal in New Zealand, which sources told the Journal-World could be worth as much as seven figures, over attending one of his finalists, Kansas, Memphis or Texas Tech.

“The Breakers have always been a team that’s punched above our weight, and we feel we’re ready to take the next step,” said team owner Matt Walsh in a news release hinting at an “exciting announcement” from the franchise.

As it turned out, that announcement came from Hampton and that punching had to do with paying one of the top prep prospects in the United States unprecedented money.

Hampton's move will likely be for one season. According to the latest future mock drafts, he is projected to be the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Asked why he decided on this route instead of the traditional route of joining a big time college program, Hampton said, “My dream has never been to play college basketball, my dream has been to get to the next level and to play in the NBA so I think this was the best route for me, to live like a pro and play against grown men every day and not kind of have to juggle books and basketball and just focus on my main goal.”

Hampton, whose family will join him in moving to New Zealand, becomes the first highly ranked prep player to pick pro ball overseas over college — though some, like Terrance Ferguson or Brandon Jennings, have been forced to take that route because of academics or suspensions, as was the case with former Louisville signee Brian Bowen II, who missed out on his freshman season of college and instead played last season with the Sydney Kings.

Hampton's move comes in contrast to the path taken by Duke star Zion Williamson, who spent his one season of waiting for the NBA Draft at Duke, where he became a household name and is the easy choice to become the No. 1 overall pick in the June 20 draft.

“What this avenue is for R.J. is a chance to get paid as a professional with a team that’s willing to develop him as a player," ESPN broadcaster Fran Fraschilla, well versed in all things international basketball, told the Journal-World shortly after Hampton's announcement. "He’ll play in a league with men that has a lot of former NCAA college stars, some former NBA players and Australian professional players and it’s a good league. It’s not the best league in the world by any stretch. R.J could not play at the highest level in the Euro League right now next year. He would be like Brandon Jennings, who sat on the bench basically.”

Regardless, Hampton believes that skipping college will make him more NBA-ready when he does finally get there.

“I feel like once I get to the next level, it’s going to prepare me for all the other steps in life," Hampton said of getting a jump-start on his professional career. "You’re a pro now, you have to be a grown man, there might be a 27, 28-year-old on the team with a family. So you just have to live like a pro and act like a pro.”

On Tuesday morning's show, Greenberg pointed out that the move for Hampton was not an academic issue like that of current NBA players Brandon Jennings, Emmanuel Mudiay and Terrance Ferguson, who spent a year overseas after high school because of their grades. Greenberg said Hampton's GPA was 3.7 and that he got a 1280 on his SAT.

There was more than Hampton's desire to put the books and classes behind him that contributed to this decision.

"I just wanted to kind of set the trend," Hampton said. "I’ve never wanted to be normal, so I kind of wanted to set the trend for younger guys coming up to show them, hey, this is not the only route you can take, college basketball. And I feel like this is a much better route for me. (It’s) not for everybody, but I think it’s a better route for me.”

Said Rose, who later admitted that he would not have looked at this option when he was coming out of high school and heading to Michigan, simply because he lacked the maturity needed to make such a move: "First of all I want to commend you on your maturity. … It takes courage to do something out of the norm.”

Thus ends one of the most highly visible recruiting battles in recent memory at Kansas. Far bigger than last year's pursuit of Romeo Langford who ultimately picked Indiana and now is headed to the NBA Draft. And given the fact that Hampton reclassified from the 2020 class into the 2019 class only to forego college altogether, it was bigger even than KU's pursuit of Andrew Wiggins, Josh Jackson and others like them.

What's more, it could go down as a landmark day for those types of talents in the future.

"It could be the beginning of a new era in sports," Greenberg said signing off.

Added co-host Jay Williams of Hampton's groundbreaking decision: “I commend him because I think other kids should be looking at that option.”

None by 14


Chris DeWeese 3 years, 4 months ago

Too bad. We'll be fine as long as Dotson comes back.

Phil Leister 3 years, 4 months ago

Can't blame the kid. None of these top tier kids' goals are to play one year of college basketball while pretending to care about going to class. I'm surprised more kids haven't done this.

Jonathan Andrews 3 years, 4 months ago

Too bad, though we're still in great shape. Best of luck RJ.


Danny Hernandez 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm hoping more of these top recruits follow RJ by playing overseas. Good luck to the young man.

David Kelley-Wood 3 years, 4 months ago

I don't wish him any ill. In fact, more power to him. But, since he's not going to be a Jayhawk, he's already in the rear view mirror.

Joe Black 3 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, its a great decision because all these guys become great pro players and don't need an education. And then in a few years they can tell everyone else how to act and who to vote for etc, etc, etc. Didn't want him if he wasn't going to concentrate on education anyway. Give me the 3-4 year guys anytime. They will work hard and be hungry to get better.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 4 months ago

Just as well. When was the last time any one-and-done helped us get to the Final Four or win the national title?

Ryan Zimmerman 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm done with following recruiting... such a massive waste of time. Watching updates, crystal balls, tweets, etc for months and the drama and the suspense only for this garbage. Nothing personal against the kid, but this happens far too often with the build up and excitement and then nothing. Maybe I'm bitter, but there's no predicting when it comes to the mind of a kid and the path of money. I've followed him and dozens of others over the years and going forward will just check this site to see who signed on... In the end it's always about money. No kid has a dream of going to play in Australia. The end goal is money and when it's flashed in front of you, education is a distant second.

Greg Bowles 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm with you Ryan. How much time and money did the KU Athletic Department waste recruiting this kid. A huge waste of resources!

Scott Proch 3 years, 4 months ago

Good luck to RJ. This looks like a good choice to me. I got to see Perry Ellis play in this league a couple of times. A 5-star will stand out athletically but the game is closer to the NBA pre-splash brothers.

Chandler Accipiter 3 years, 4 months ago

Come on adidas, how long does it take to get another competent bag man?

Mike Riches 3 years, 4 months ago

I would have liked to see him in a Jayhawks uniform next season but I definitely admire his honesty and courage making this move. And I'm guessing his million+ will be tax free? Even if not, that's a lot of money for doing what he loves, playing for a team that will undoubtedly revolve around him. It'll be interesting to see if others follow his lead.

John Strayer 3 years, 4 months ago

tax free?? not unless he is willing to give up his US Citizenship and expatriate...which probably not a good choice if he wants to be in the NBA 12 months from now. US citizens are generally taxed on their worldwide income.

Mike Riches 3 years, 4 months ago

Yep, it appears you are right about that. That's still a lot of money, and I can think of a lot worse places to live than New Zealand for sure. I live in Little Elm, TX where RJ is from, and while it's not a bad place, we don't quite have the views of the North Island. :)

Greg Bowles 3 years, 4 months ago

Taxes in New Zealand are twice of what they are here.

Eliott Reeder 3 years, 4 months ago

"My dream has never been to play college basketball... my dream has been to get to the next level and to play in the NBA." Probably a bullet dodged. We need players that are committed to the team concept that is college ball. I agree with previous posters that more of the top-tier prospects should look into taking this route and forego the one-and-done farce of a single year of college ball. Good luck to him!

Eric J. Baker 3 years, 4 months ago

This highlights lots of issues with basketball in the United States, like high school kids not being able to go straight to to the NBA and the NCAA not allowing players to be paid, but with all due respect to R.J. Hampton, he's not setting any sort of a trend. He's probably too young to remember Brandon Jennings doing exactly this in 2008-- he played with an Italian professional team for a year, then went to the NBA. He had a good few years, but his numbers dropped off precipitously and he's back to playing in Europe again.

Glen Miller 3 years, 4 months ago

Good luck to this kid. I hope this move works out for him. Honestly, as much as he would have helped our team, this was probably for the best. Had he come here, I get the sense he would have been disengaged from the team a bit. He seems to be a me first type and that's fine because he knows what he wants and he chose the best path in his mind to get there. I don't blame these kids for looking out for themselves these days with all the money the NCAA is leaching off of them. It's sad what college basketball recruiting has become now. I can't imagine how hard it is as a head coach to figure out who's where and what kids are thinking. Now we wait and see who's coming back..........

Jeff Kallmeyer 3 years, 4 months ago

This age 19 NBA rule has to go away! Why would any overseas team pay a high schooler that kind of money for only a one-year commitment?

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

Was that a rhetorical question? The same reasons Kentucky does. Wins and fans.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 4 months ago

as a college basketball fan, I'm hopeful a trend does not start where we lose a lot of talented kids to overseas. I would like to see them in games here. Not a fan of all these overseas players snagging spots in the NBA either.

Craig Carson 3 years, 4 months ago

IMO, the only kids who would really have the option of going overseas are the highly ranked Hampton or with the Euro league churning out plenty of its own NBA level kids I can't see them being that hard up over a low rated 5 star kid from the US or especially some 4 star kid....I remember when Jennings opted for Italy in 2008..people assumed it would start a never did...

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

In this case we're talking about a very highly rated 5* player.

Craig Carson 3 years, 4 months ago

I wish the kid success...but as far as him starting a trend, doubtful.. He isn't the first high ranked recruit to forgo college in favor of, in a few years it won't matter since the age rule will be lifted and kids like him can just go straight to the NBA..though I do wonder,with that leaving a small hole at SG,do we want Grimes to come back? I know he had an off freshman season but he is still a 5 star with lots of talent ??? ..though I'd still choose Dotson coming back over Grimes

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 4 months ago

The measurement is 6 pick in next years draft. If he falls from that then you'll think of this trend. I think every player going overseas has dropped so far, but if you get a million there are a lot of players that were really good in college ball that never made that money in the NBA.

I must say that if he had no desire to go to college, why did he take visits.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

Because CBB is the common path to the NBA?

Freddie Garza 3 years, 4 months ago

That FBI investigation is hurting the heck out of us.

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

Continually saying that doesn't make it so. Arizona and LSU have decent classes. Kansas just didn't have openings until late March.

Even since the season's end, Dok, DeSousa, Grimes and Dotson were possible returners.

Stuart Corder 3 years, 4 months ago

Okay - this time I won’t let my post time out.

Like a few of the sentiments above, I wish Mr. Hampton the best. If I was an 18 yr old kid exiting high school, I’d take a seven figure deal for my talents, too!

As for his aspirations of “setting a trend” or achieving his goal of reaching the NBA, neither really describes Mr. Hampton. Numerous other recruits have taken their talents overseas, and far more players enter the NBA from the NCAA than from international play.

I would imagine that the KU weight/nutrition program, workout facilities, coaching staff, current/former NBA connections, national TV exposure, and success against other widely touted recruits would have been more beneficial to his NBA stock - but that’s only an assumption as I’ve never been to Australia/New Zealand, nor have I ever seen the New Zealand Breakers play.

That being said, his options were:

  • any college he chooses with a degree should it not pan out


  • a seven figure deal to play basketball in Australia, a shoe deal, and the platform to prove himself against “grown men” rather than NCAA talent.

I think the logical argument is that it would be foolish NOT to jump at the opportunity presented to this kid out of high school.

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

He's the first to do it with a full slate of options. Others all had eligibility or academic issues.

Sam Meyer 3 years, 4 months ago

Theres risk involved with any decision he was going to make. A 7 figure paycheck sure does remove a lot of risk from this particular decision. I couldnt imagine many people turning that opportunity down. At least KU won't have to play against him this season 2-3 times since he won't be playing for TT.

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

Easy choice.

There's no way this doesn't become a trend. Euro kids are showing that a year or two of playing against men is FAR more useful than a year or two of college. The only caveat is that college hype = greater endorsement potential. That may change as America continues to become more globally aware.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 4 months ago

So much for the uptick in recruiting. And I agree with Jay, why waste time w/the f*** NCAA when you can get paid now.

Maybe an issue w/reclassification.

Robert Brock 3 years, 4 months ago

This is on Jerrance Howard. Snacks can’t close diddly.

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

Howard's offer - No $$ and schoolwork at Lawrence in winter.

Matt Walsh's offer - Millions $$, no school, better competition, summer near the beach.

Please share your best objection handling techniques.

Bee Bee 3 years, 4 months ago

Broke and living on the street with a high school education when he doesnt make the LEAGUE or suffers a career ending injury. Gotta think long term, young fella.

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

With the $$$ in this contract he can go to college for the rest of his life. His parents both are college grads. His mom has a Masters. Cash is long term. College degrees are theory.

David McNickle 3 years, 4 months ago

Was RJ going to get his degree in 1 year?

Tracey Graham 3 years, 4 months ago

Someone should tell Matt Tait that Hampton is not the first highly recruited player to skip college to go play overseas. Brandon Jennings did the very same thing years ago.

It's a little surprising that more recruits aren't going this route. But then again, there are only a handful of slots on international teams that are available to American players. Most leagues have roster restrictions so that the majority of spots on any team are claimed by citizens of that country.I believe the general rule is that a team can only have 2 non-citizens on a roster.

I've heard that Grimes isn't coming back to KU and Dotson is still very much on the fence. If both of them leave, KU is not going to be good next year.

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

Nobody is saying that.

He's the first to do it without eligibility or academic concerns.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

KU is going to be good next year even with the partial roster we currently have. We might not be elite, but we will most definitely be good.

Tony Bandle 3 years, 4 months ago

Random Thoughts:

1] It will be interesting to see how or if this effects Mr. Wilson's decision.

2] Dok returning, Devon staying and Silvio being available will have a far bigger impact next season than any recruits KU could sign at this point so why sweat it. Heck, I'd be OK with Q coming back as well.

3] New Zealand/Australian bball is actually pretty decent...not quite elite division one or G league but still not chopped liver either.

4] I wish him the best......given this option I am pretty sure that, honestly, I would probably do the same thing.

5] Congrats to all of this year's graduates and may you all find a job that makes you happy.

Drew Doerfler 3 years, 4 months ago

this makes getting Grimes back a lot more important .... we needed a scoring guard to come also makes getting Dotson back a must to have any chance of a great team next year. We really need to get Wilson. It's not always about next year, but also about getting recruits in that will be here for 3 or 4 years improving. After next year, we would be really, really thin at the front court positions...... hopefully there is a 3 pt shooting transfer somewhere that Self can pull out of his I don't blame the kid at all for making the choice that he did...i would have done the same thing....but i'm guessing the family knew what they were going to do but led the colleges on for bargaining power on the contract in Australia......

Brian Wilson 3 years, 4 months ago

Hard to believe Grimes would change his mind. If you read his posts he pretty said his goodbyes. However, if things look grim to him maybe the attraction of playing PG would change his mind.

However, if Grime doesn't come back, which I don't think he will, KU IS STILL GOING TO BE JUST FINE. SILVIO is the KEY and we got him, not Grimes, or Hampton, and DOTSON coming back is next most important. I have a feeling Dotson may not come back. Projections have him in the top 50. Hard to pass that up. But, either Isaac McBride and Christian Braun I'm sure will step up and KU will be just fine. In addition, if Dotson does jump, i wouldn't be surprised if 5 star immediately eligible USC PG Derryck Thornton Jr doesn't show up on our list.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

I hadn't seen that Thorton was eligible again. He probably wants the ball in his hands too much to play alongside Devon. There is room on the roster.

Steve Corder 3 years, 4 months ago

1) He never would have received a college degree no mater the selection. 2) Best decision for college basketball in the long run. 3) Next up: NBA drafting straight from high school, no age limitation.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

You apparently miss the failed drafting of HS players. Yes, there were some successful players being drafted, but the owners also lost millions on players that didn't pan out. It hurt the league in so many ways. Any damage to the NCAA is less relevant when it doesn't affect the bottom line of those really successful business men and women.

Titus Canby 3 years, 4 months ago

I agree with most posters that this is a good decision for Hampton. College isn't for everyone, and these kids shouldn't be forced to go to college to pursue a career in basketball. I believe that the NBA-imposed "one and done rule" is bad for college basketball and constitutes restraint of trade.

For those concerned about him not having an education to fall back on if he fails in New Zealand, he still has a million dollars (pre-tax) to fall back on. He could use that to pay for a college education if he wants to.

For those concerned that "it's all about the money," of course it's all about the money. That's why I went to college. To get an education so I could make money. That's why I chose journalism and business instead of majoring in philosophy.

As someone mentioned above, how many of you would say "no" when given the option, do something you love and receive $1,000,00 or do something you don't love (go to school) and make next to nothing?

Finally, I hope this is a trend. If so, it may convince the NBA to change its rule, and quit making a sham out of "student athletes" and the institutions of higher learning in our country.

Brian Wilson 3 years, 4 months ago

No you are right.
IMO, basketball players should be forced to sign a NCAA college basketball contract. All scholarships should be eliminated and when athletes announce they should have to sign a TWO YEAR contract that provide would provide something like $40,000 towards their college expense and $15,000 toward living expenses per year. If they back out of the contract the NCAA and school should have rights to sue for damages. As is time spent for their development and training, legal expense, cost of contract, etc., etc. this way schools get to keep their players for at least two years and have at least a year for them to learn the system and then the age of one and done's is over.

Patrick Bryant 3 years, 4 months ago

Living like a grown man with his parents?

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

My thought exactly.

I think a person would grow up more by moving out from under their parents, but maybe they have a different relationship.

Michael Sillman 3 years, 4 months ago

As others have said this is probably the right choice for a kid with zero interest in a college degree. What I feel he’s leaving on the table is a year of great coaching. You can’t compare the coaching at a rinky dink pro league in New Zealand to a top flight college coach. Plus he won’t get nearly the media attention provided by playing March Madness. Good luck to him but I’m glad that we’ll no longer be part of his drama.

David Howell 3 years, 4 months ago

This had BALL Family Version 2 written all over it ..............

If he is SOOO good, someone tell me why he would pass up the NCAA with prime time and March madness exposure to play on the other side of the world ? Has to be the money. Zion and Ja Morant will have big shoe deals from college exposure !

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

So so much less psycho than BBB. I thought they really handled the whole thing with a lot of class.

Zion would have had a sneaker deal well before CBB if allowed. JaMorant is a function of the CBB, but Zion is a function of Youtube.

Layne Pierce 3 years, 4 months ago

Ok R J. is in the rear view mirror, so let's look at Big Picture. We probably won't get Wilson now. oK.

But fact is nobody else gets R.J. either. Especially Texas Tech. That would have been a game changer.

I wonder if rumors that Grimes was coming back had anything to do with his decision. Either way, actually I would rather have DeSousa than Hampton. Because he is not one and done, because he cares, because he wants to play for KU. And he is a team guy.

Fact is we still may add another player Wilson, or another 4star guard. And do not underestimate McBride.

My only aggravation, is why did it take so long. An enormous amount of wasted time and money went into his recruitment. Relationships were established. If he would have done this before, right when he reclassified then I would have said fine, go for it, but this leading schools on, is a bit much.

Hasta la vista Baby RCJH

David Howell 3 years, 4 months ago

.... why did it take so long ?

It's all about ME, look at ME ! Give me all the attention ........

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

It hasn't even been a month since he reclassified, and really only 3 weeks considering that the decision apparently was made last week. How quickly do you think the overseas teams put together contract options?

Jay Scott 3 years, 4 months ago

From everything I see we already have aessentially the same player as Jalen Wilson in Tristan Enaruna. They're about the same size, position and skill set. Rivals ranks TU a little higher.

While more is better...what does Wilson bring that Enaruna doesn't?

RJ King 3 years, 4 months ago

Five more fouls to give. Competition. Insurance against injury. Potential for growth and development. Perception that Kansas still has the mojo.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 4 months ago

At this point one of the least things that Willson brings is us another spot closer to a full roster.

More importantly though is Wilson or whomever we sign is an bullet in the Russian roulette game of recruiting.

It is also a matter of minutes and being able to sub in players or compensate for injuries.

Why must you pit one against the other and be demeaning?

Matt Stone 3 years, 4 months ago

Bye Felicia! We don't need greedy players. If either Dotson or Grimes comes back KU will be fine.

Robin Smith 3 years, 4 months ago

Very sincerely, fingers crossed for this kid.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 4 months ago

2 year 800000, it might be a lot, but he itll be interesting to see how others do around his same rating.

Eric Dawson 3 years, 4 months ago

Kid signed with NZ a month before he announced his decision. He ripped off all 3 schools and his dad played big wig while knowing full well for the last month that he was never going to play college ball. Grifters.

David Howell 3 years, 4 months ago

Like I said earlier, Ball Family #2 ..........

I guess it didn't hurt to see if there was any remaining ADIDAS or NIKE $$$ left to disburse !! LOL

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