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RJ Hampton leaves New Zealand Breakers

Author
Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Tue, 4 Feb 2020, 10:21AM
RJ Hampton is preparing for the NBA draft. (Photo / Photosport)
RJ Hampton is preparing for the NBA draft. (Photo / Photosport)

RJ Hampton leaves New Zealand Breakers

Author
Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Tue, 4 Feb 2020, 10:21AM

New Zealand Breakers guard RJ Hampton's time with the club is over.

The 18-year-old NBA draft prospect will not see out the remainder of the season with the team and will instead return home to the United States to prepare for this year's draft.

Hampton joined the Breakers as part of the NBL's Next Stars initiative, set up to bring future NBA stars to the league early in their careers.

Hampton, Illawarra Hawks guard LaMelo Ball and Sydney Kings' Didi Lozada have all been among the players to join the league through the programme.

Ball was injured earlier in the season and returned home to the States last month, while Hampton has been nursing a hip injury over the past few weeks.

"If I was healthy I would definitely be here," Hampton said.

"We all in the organisation thought it would be best, I'm not healthy enough to get back on the court, to go home, prepare and get healthy for the NBA draft."

The injury is a short-term issue however with only two games left in the Breakers' regular season, time was running out to get Hampton back on to the court.

Hampton averaged about nine points, four rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes per game with the Breakers, and noticeably improved as the season went on.

While some fans were critical throughout the season of Hampton playing around 20 minutes per game, he said he wasn't expecting to see full starter's minutes.

"I didn't come over here to play every minute of every game," he explained. "I came over here to learn. Most of my time was in practice learning from those guys and going up against those guys."

Hampton father, Rod, said the decision to join the Breakers had been a successful one, with Hampton showing plenty of improvement to lift his stock ahead of the draft.

"We came over here as a top five pick, and I think we're leaving as a top five pick," Rod said.

"He's gotten so much better, so much stronger, so much faster, so much wiser."

Projected as a first round selection in June's NBA draft, he will now work to get himself healthy and ready to impress NBA scouts and executives back home.

 

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