Could RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball team up in Australia's NBL?

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Could RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball team up in Australia's NBL?

Boys Basketball

Could RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball team up in Australia's NBL?

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On Tuesday morning, 2019 five-star prospect R.J. Hampton, ranked No. 5 by 247Sports, made a surprise announcement on his future, turning down offers from Kansas and Memphis to instead play in Australia’s National Basketball League with the New Zealand Breakers.

Hampton is the latest in a growing line of prospects to turn down the NCAA and instead opt for a route through professional ranks overseas. Most recently, current Oklahoma City Thunder guard Terrance Ferguson spent a year with the Adelaide 36ers before coming back to America. Emmanual Mudiay and Brandon Jennings both famously spent time in China before entering the NBA Draft.

But, as followers of this website and the Ball family know, Hampton may not be the only five-star prospect to join the NBL this year. LaMelo Ball, ranked No. 22 in the Class of 2019, is still reportedly leaning heavily on playing professionally overseas with Australia and China as the main candidates.

The announcement that LaMelo would opt for overseas play versus an attempt to fight the NCAA or stay in America and compete in the G-League came nearly two months ago but no further progress has been made on a decision, at least publicly.

The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie detailed the NBL’s “Next Stars” program designed for players aiming to use the league as a stop-gap before returning to the NBA. The groundbreaking program offers athletes contracts worth $100,000 that also includes numerous perks including an apartment and car. The program also requires that a player be draft eligible for the NBA and only intend on spending one year in Australia.

However, it does not appear that multiple “Next Stars” players can be on a roster at once in the league. At best, it’d be unchartered waters for the league’s program that only began ahead of the 2018-19 season. But it’s unlikely the league would want multiple “Next Stars” on the same team, instead opting to spread potential draws onto multiple teams.

But it’s a situation that hasn’t been broached yet. Hampton and Ball could both find themselves on the New Zealand Breakers next season. It’d be unprecedented but Ball does live in a world of doing things no one else has done before, so don’t rule it out.

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Could RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball team up in Australia's NBL?
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