Basketball, New Zealand, NBA discussed on The Lead

The Lead


You recently flew to New Zealand's to write this really interesting profile of RJ Hampton. First of all tough assignment. Yes well last year I went to Maui and so I felt like I should keep my November's in very difficult places to report to this year I pitch the New Zealand. Well played well. Could you just tell us a little bit about. RJ hamptons background. Yeah so I mean. He's a point guard really by nature feature. He's got good vision on the court after wants to lob back door Ashley with the redirect at the apex played from Upton as a long lanky guard who was a star at little elm high school outside of Dallas. He's a good decision maker. He's confident you know. He's Kinda skinny but that too it will change. He's only eighteen when you talk to scouts. They're thinking about not what he looks like right now but who he can be in three years you take his skill set and marry the body that's has NBA weight training. And you got a pretty good player. I mean he's definitely a very certain I would think first undrafted so in Highschool RJ was being recruited by lots of top college teams and he probably could have gone to any school he wanted but he and his family made a pretty bold decision. You chose the New Zealand breakers of the Australian National Basketball League. Why did you do that? I just felt like At this point and My growing development the basketball player I felt like I was ready for the next level. And take my my town's too Professionally so he will tell you that he never dreamed of being a college basketball player. He dreamed of being a pro. So why take the step for what is essentially a a handful of months because with the NBA age limit. Basically good towns at high school players. Go to college for a year and then they enter their names into the NBA draft in June. And that's that's the end of that. So his rationale was will. Why bother doing that if I really have no interest in it financially obviously it was much better? You don't get paid to go play in college. Needless needless to say you can get quite a bit of money and he did through the New Zealand breakers so it was a very calculated business decision made made by a family fully aware of gun officials and the risks of all of it. A lot of people don't associate Australia or New Zealand with professional basketball. So how did he end up there. And what is the League Lake in New Zealand. The the Australian basketball is sort of. They're really trying to elevate themselves as an attractive place for American athletes to play because English speaking countries. It's very competitive. They are paid on time. You hear horror stories all the time about people going overseas to play basketball professionally and the leagues are not run properly from a business standpoint. They do not get their paychecks tax when they're supposed to housing arrangements are disastrous. You Know New Zealand Australia. These places that are very familiar in terms of language and the culture. They're very comfortable even even though they're literally on the other side of the world and so you know the basketball league there is trying to raise its profile and the League is pretty good. How much money is he making? They're both from in salary and endorsement deals. They're a little sketchy about giving you full details about all of that because that's just how they wanNA roll right now. But mid six figures is a number I was given mid six figures meaning like around. Five hundred thousand. Yeah and again. He's living in a great place. The team helps take care of their housing. They don't really have a lot of expenses to incur. So you know mid six figures if you're eighty nine year old would be college freshman isn't bad. Yes certainly a lot different than then what he would be making a few had gone to Kansas or any of the other schools that were recruiting of exactly as the NCAA goes through a lot of issues with pain athletes and in dragging their feet on these issues. I think you're GONNA see other kids saying hang on a second. That's a lot more money than zero and one of the interesting things about RJ RJ. Situation is it isn't like his parents shipped him off to go fend for himself in this overseas league for year like the parents moved with him the whole family family uprooted and moved to New Zealand. Together tell me a little bit about his parents. Rod and Marketa may decided that they weren't going to send rightly so I would say as as a mom there. Eighteen year old to a foreign country to fend for himself so they chose as a family. This would be a family decision. They would move. Rj has an eleven year. Old Brother. He is there as well being home schooled by his mother terms of personalities. You know I would say rod is. The showman was more for people familiar with Lavar Ball. Who Lamelo Ball and Liangelo ball and Lonzo ball who sort of got a lot of attention for negative? Give behavior in your prime. You said you could beat Michael Jordan one. You know. I'm undefeated one on one. I'll never lose one on g ever played Michael Jordan if he played me cry Arado Keys Lavar except he's not nearly as much of a jerk that he's much more likable version of that. If that makes sense he's much more pleasant and I think well well intended. Our goal is to get a hit on June. Twenty Two thousand twenty. That's our ingle. That's and that's really his. We're going to support in any way we can kita. Rj Mom is much more of the level headed. This is an opposites attract relationship. It would seem to me. She is very much which grounded in everything. She talks frequently about why they made this decision educated. So that's what they don't understand. What all of you don't want him to get an education not about getting education? This is a valid. He didn't want take basketball born. Been Okay funk you know what I'm saying so and understands the risks risks understands. She's putting her kid up for a lot of skepticism. A lot of criticism and is uncomfortable about some of it. She told me a story about her. Mother was in a grocery store back in Dallas and ran into a family friend and the woman said. Why didn't you just send that boy to college? As if they were kind of using their son and that really upset her Chris that thought how she sees this she sees opportunity for rj to be better at his chosen profession. Yeah it's it's hard to imagine parents wanting this for their our kid. I mean what what I don't want their kid to go off and get a college education in a college degree. Yeah I think though you know I think if you sit back and you look at it from a very. I don't know cynical but honest way of looking at things. He wasn't going to graduate college. He was going to go for for a full semester in the fall and in June he would be drafted so at most in an ideal situation. What are we looking at twenty four thirty credits that he would have towards his college degree now? I would argue that there is more to the college experience and going to class in terms of socialization and being an eighteen year old. But that's my opinion you know that it doesn't have to be everybody's and you know they're obviously advantages to being there from a basketball and from a financial standpoint but you know at the same time this is an eighteen year old kids judge. What's his life like they're like did he seem happy to you? Does he have a social life. The friends his teammates as he said sort of like kind of dismissively like jokingly together they all have like wives at best he could be a babysitter. You know I mean. They don't have a lot in common. They're all grown men with wives and families Elise and they go home and they do their thing so you know he plays xbox he plays a lot of fortnight. He watches a lot of Netflix. Even done anything fine. That's the first thing discovered so you need to discuss possible TV. Douglas was watching that. Do Riverdale my God in eighteen year you are my daughter. He faced times his friends. Religiously say he is definitely homesick. And and you know I think we often define homesick being family sick. Like you miss your family when you're homesick. He's actually physically home sick like home. I miss my bed I miss chipotle way I miss my friend. Yeah and were there any moments where it really hit you that. Hey this guy's just a kid tons. I mean you know tons like you know I I have one at him. I have an eighteen year old. So yeah I mean like you lucky scrolling through his phone. He's talking about Billy Islands and his dad's like joking that he and billy is your buddies and he's getting embarrassed because he doesn't want people to think the bill is like his friend or girlfriend. Or what have you go through the door coming up. What have you? Billy is sending care packages to your son. Is this your teeth. I mean He. He missed his truck truck bed. I miss my bed. I miss my truck so much. There's another very well known young basketball. Ask Ball player who's also playing in New Zealand. Lamelo ball bolts thought about jacking. It up now does with great success. Oh how his his experience variance spent similar to or different than RJ hamptons. Well first of all how Lamelo ball got there versus how. Rj Hampton got. There obviously two completely different paths bats. I mean Lamelo Ball's father as Lavar sort of marketed. His Boys how God at the age of I don't even know what fourteen fifteen sixteen any Lamelo was playing Lithuania at the age of sixteen so totally different experience. He was never going to be eligible playing college ball. Just based on all of that so lamelo situation. He's in Australia in terms of the basketball over there. He's with a team outside of Sydney and they are not as talented. Ah as RJ's team so basketball wise Lamelo is sort of got more free reign to just go and shoot and do what you need to do. And kind of be the show in the Star Star. It's similar in different. I would say all at the same time and it was interesting to watch them interact after they played one another. They were just kind of teenagers chatting in this really bizarre world. They've chosen is this becoming more of a trend now. Dana high school players opting to go play professionally overseas instead of going to college. Not yet I mean the guys is who did it before. Rj Brandon Jennings Terrence Ferguson Emmanuel Moody. They had eligibility issues and didn't really have a lot of choice. But there certainly is a sense this especially among NBA people that if this goes well this could become if not a trend. Certainly more an option for small select group of people who are willing to do it.

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