On Tuesday morning, the unthought of happened. 5-star prospect from Little Elm, Texas, RJ Hampton, made his decision to play overseas this next year for a team in New Zealand. The significance? This is the first time a player of this stature that had proper academics opted out of playing college basketball.
RJ Hampton is the 5th overall prospect in ESPN's Top 100 recruits for the 2019 class. Before making his decision on ESPN's Get Up! Hampton's list was down to Memphis, Kentucky, Kansas, and Duke. A dream scenario for any high school senior, having your pick of the litter and deciding your own fate in Division-1 Basketball. Instead of taking the traditional one-and-done route that most top players take, RJ Hampton decided to start a new trend.
Hampton's decision to forego college and focus strictly on basketball emphasizes the brokenness of the college basketball system. From his point of view, it makes sense. When announcing his decision, Hampton said this was strictly a basketball decision. Going to a school to play basketball is awesome, the atmosphere, the college experience, especially for a D1 athlete. That was not the issue. It's the off the court distractions that made his decision.
Hampton said his desire was to play in the NBA and would take the smartest path to get there. College is cool, but why not be around pros now? Instead of going to classes and doing homework, now he can be in the gym expanding his game in different ways. Playing under someone like Coach K or Coach Cal is an amazing opportunity, but being around immediate pros and focusing solely on his own game is what will make Hampton a better pro.