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College basketball recruiting: Five-star guard RJ Hampton to play in Australian NBL, rejects Kansas, Memphis, Texas Tech

Five-star Class of 2019 guard RJ Hampton announced Tuesday morning he intends to forgo college and will play professionally in Australia and New Zealand this season in preparation for the 2020 NBA Draft.

Hampton’s decision is one of the first of its kind. Many players have blazed the same path due to shaky academic standing, but Hampton is willingly choosing to spurn college for professional basketball in Australia in part because he feels it gives him the best shot to reach his goals.

“My dream has never been to play college basketball,” Hampton said on ESPN’s “Get Up” on Tuesday. “My dream has always been to get to the next level and to play in the NBA. I think the best route for me is to live like a pro and play with grown men everyday, and not have to juggle books and basketball and just focus on my main goal.”

Hampton’s father emphasized that his son is making this move with an eye on the NBA.

“I think he’s ready, that’s why we weren’t going back to high school,” Hampton told 247Sports. “It’s never been a dream of his to play college basketball, it’s been a dream of his to use college basketball as a vehicle to get to the NBA.

Hampton will play in the Australian National Basketball League and has signed a contract with the New Zealand Breakers. He chose this route over offers from Texas Tech, Kansas and Memphis, the three finalists that were eliminated with his surprising decision.

Hampton is a 6-foot-5, 185-pound combo guard from Little Elm, Texas. He reclassified from the 2020 class to 2019 earlier this spring with an eye on becoming eligible for the 2020 NBA Draft, where he’s likely to be a lottery pick. He’s ranked in the 247Sports Composite as the No. 5 overall player in the 2019 class.

The Australian NBL is a best-of-both-worlds situation for Hampton, who will not only get a chance to improve his basketball skills against professionals, but will also get compensated for his efforts — a luxury college basketball cannot (legally) afford players of his caliber. Hampton joins former blue-chip prospect Terrance Ferguson in going from the prep level to Australia; Ferguson played with Adelaide and was drafted No. 21 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.

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