The NBA is working toward lowering its age minimum.
In the meantime, other leagues are recruiting top players out of high school. College basketball is trying to maintain its monolith status. The Australian National Basketball League is offering “Next stars” contracts that guarantee about $78,000 U.S. gross. The NBA’s minor league affiliate is offering Select Contracts with a $125,000 salary.
Score one for Australia.
Top-10 2020 NBA draft prospect R.J. Hampton on ESPN:
Next year, I will be going overseas to play in the Australian basketball league with the New Zealand Breakers.
Players generally don’t publicly disclose under-the-table payments or low grades/test scores. So, we don’t know why players like Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay bypassed college basketball. But Hampton is believed to be the first elite American player without college-eligibility issues who still chose to play overseas out of high school.
Will Hampton start a trend? Probably not. The end of the one-and-done rule appears imminent. Players like him will just go straight to the NBA.
But this is definitely an unconventional route for Hampton, and the NBA – teams scouting for the draft, league and union leaders negotiating a future system – will pay attention.