Basketball: NBA prospect RJ Hampton signs for the New Zealand Breakers

The NZ Breakers have signed one of the best young prospects in American basketball.

Eighteen-year-old RJ Hampton has forgone the opportunity to play at one of the most esteemed college basketball programmes in the United States to turn professional a year early.

Hampton is a top-five projected player for the 2020 NBA draft, with some recruiting websites rating him as the potential second pick.

Hampton will be joined by his family in New Zealand for what is likely to be a one-season deal.

The point guard had offers on the table from Duke, Kansas and Kentucky - three of the most dominant US basketball universities.

Hampton told ESPN that playing in the NBA was his ultimate dream, and he and his family believe this was the best move for his development as a player.

"I think it’s going to be the perfect next step for me, as I continue along the path toward fulfilling my dream of playing in the NBA," Barrett said. "But more than anything, I just want to get to work. 

"That’s what I’m coming there to do - continue to make a name for myself, show the world that I can take that next step to being a professional and playing against guys who have been doing this their whole careers. I'm ready for it."

Breakers owner Matt Walsh, a former NBA forward, said Hampton's signing was just the first of many, as the side looked to re-tool after the departures of Shaun Long and Tai Wesley.

"RJ is our first international recruit for the upcoming season, and we have plenty more exciting announcements ahead," Walsh said at the announcement from New York. 

"I love New Zealand, and I'm all about bringing more championships back to the club and our fans". 

Hampton's high school numbers are impressive. He averaged 30.3 points per game, as well as eight rebounds and seven assists as a sophomore at Little Elm High School in Texas.

Those stats mirror current NBA superstar LeBron James, who finished his high school career averaging close to 32 points per game.