Top 2020 draft prospect R.J. Hampton confirmed today that he’ll pass on the opportunity to play college basketball, heading overseas instead to join the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL. While it’s not the first time an elite prospect has bypassed college, just about every player who has done so in the past has had eligibility concerns — Hampton doesn’t.
In a follow-up story on Hampton’s decision, Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com (Insider link) explores the potential upsides and downsides of the youngster’s new path, and examines whether there are other candidates to follow suit.
Outside of perhaps LaMelo Ball, Givony doesn’t expect any other one-and-done candidates to head to the NBL for the 2019/20 season, but he notes that potential fallout from ongoing NCAA corruption investigations could change that. If certain programs are hit by sanctions or head coaching firings, that may cause top prospects to rethink their plans for next season, and the NBL could look to recruit those players.
Here’s more from around the basketball world:
- Before he joined the Thunder in 2016, swingman Alex Abrines played for Barcelona for several seasons. Now, according to a report from Barcelona-based L’Esportiu Catalunya (via Sportando), the Spanish club has interest in bringing him back. Abrines parted ways with Oklahoma City this season for personal reasons, so it’s not clear if he’ll be ready to return to action – whether in the NBA or EuroLeague – for the 2019/20 campaign.
- Amadou Gallo Fall, the NBA’s vice president and managing director for Africa, has been named the president of the new Basketball Africa League, writes Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. The new 12-team African league is on track to begin play in 2020.
- Besides featuring a new matchup for the first time since 2014, this year’s NBA Finals will also have a significant ripple effect on the upcoming NBA offseason, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. As Reynolds observes, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Kawhi Leonard will all be free agents this summer, and it’s not inconceivable that their decisions will be affected by what happens in the series.