USA loses top NBA prospect to Australia as NBL rises

The National Basketball League (NBL) of Australia and New Zealand is emerging as a global superpower in basketball. This brings troublesome news to America’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

American high school player RJ Hampton has signed on to the NBL. This is good news for the New Zealand Breakers as the team welcomes Hampton, widely considered as a top prospect for next year’s NBA draft.

Credible basketball recruiting sites in America have rated the 18-year-old point guard with five stars. A ranking considered as one of the most sought after amongst high schooler aspiring to play professionally.

The teenage basketball star received a 96 out of 100 ratings from ESPN, declaring him the top 5 overall prospect for 2020’s NBA draft.

News of Hampton’s decision to play in Auckland came as a shock not just to basketball colleges in the United States. American sports media have also expressed doubts against New Zealand Breakers’ ability to develop future NBA talent.

The news has also been unfortunate for the NCAA as rising stars are becoming more and more aware of the option to be paid while playing overseas. It is forbidden in the NCAA to pay amateur athletes, a rule being criticized for possible exploitation.

According to Hampton in an interview with ESPN, his decision rooted from his dream to “live like a pro and to play with grown men every day and to not have to juggle books and basketball”.

This is NBL’s advantage over the NCAA. The professional basketball league offers reasonable pay and experience playing against professional athletes.

Ben Hornery
Ben Hornery
Ben is is a senior journalist and sport columnist for Best in Australia. He previously worked for the BC and other radio stations.
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