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Volume 26 No. 65
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Top Prospect Skipping College To Play Overseas Not Seen As Trend

Hampton (c) is the latest high-profile basketball prospect to skip college and play overseas for a year
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

College basketball likely would "benefit from one year" of top high school prospect R.J. Hampton, but his decision to play overseas in Australia's National Basketball League is "not a death blow for the NCAA," according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com. Every few years a "high-level prospect decides to skip college and go the overseas route for a year." When that happens, the "question is asked whether this is going to start a trend of players skipping their one season of college and what that means for college basketball." But then "no one else does it." College basketball "will be fine" (ESPN.com, 5/28). USA TODAY's Dan Wolken writes the belief that Hampton is about to "inspire an exodus of elite basketball prospects from using the collegiate system as a springboard to the NBA is just as wrong now as it was when people said it years ago with Brandon Jennings, Emmanuel Mudiay and Darius Bazley." There is a "difference with Hampton in that he's going to the Australian league purely as a choice, whereas others had eligibility or academic concerns that basically took the college option away from them." But the "bottom line" is that for all its "flaws and inequities, the NCAA has constructed the best developmental path for most players" (USA TODAY, 5/29). ESPN's Scott Van Pelt said, "No floodgates are opening." He added, "The idea that there is suddenly going to be an increase in players who decide to pass on a year of college, leave home and go halfway around the world to do this, in my opinion, is silly. ... I simply don't believe it reflects anything more than a rare young man making a very mature decision" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 5/28).

STILL SOME CONCERN: ESPN's Mike Schmitz said going overseas for high schoolers not yet eligible for the NBA Draft is a "really attractive option" instead of going to college. Hampton can earn upwards of $500,000 with his deal with the NBL, and "then you add in the ability to now go after a shoe deal." Schmitz: "This is not the last name who could potentially come into the fold here" ("OTL," ESPN, 5/28). ESPN's David Jacoby said Hampton's move "might change the game forever" ("Jalen & Jacoby," ESPN Radio, 5/28). SI.com's Dan Greene wrote in the wake of Hampton's decision, there is "talk of trend-setting regarding the doors Hampton ... might open for alternative career paths." As the "most talented teenage basketball players face increased options of where to play after high school," college basketball's status as a "talent incubator is only going to continue taking a hit." Greene: "And with that, its national relevance will too" (SI.com, 5/28).

WHO NEEDS COLLEGE? ESPN's Dan Le Batard wondered if part of Hampton's decision to go to the NBL is because he does not want to "fall under the injustice of the NCAA system." Le Batard: "He's already going to get sneaker money that he wouldn't be able to get if he was playing in college. In college, the teams get the sneaker money, the coaches get the sneaker money. Here's a player saying, 'I want my sneaker money'" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 5/28). The Washington Post's Kevin Blackistone: "He's going to make money off of his own value rather than allow someone else to make that money off of his value" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 5/28).