Stories

Top high school basketball players choose to play in Australia over college

LaMelo Ball (L) and RJ Hampton
LaMelo Ball (L) and RJ Hampton (R). Photo: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

While the majority of America's top high school talent chose to spend the year in college where they will earn $0 in wages, LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton chose to spend the year in Australia's National Basketball League where they will earn $68,400 each in wages.

What they're saying: Ball was unlikely to be NCAA eligible anyway after playing professionally in Lithuania, but Hampton had full eligibility — he simply chose the path he thought would best prepare him for the NBA.

"My dream has never been to play college basketball. My dream has always been to get to the next level and play in the NBA, so ... I think this was the best route for me to live like a pro and play with grown men every day and not have to juggle books and basketball and just focus on my main goal."
R.J. Hampton

The big picture: Hampton's decision embodies the modern challenge facing college basketball, but fears over this becoming the new normal are exaggerated. After all, as I mentioned up top, the "one-and-done" era will likely end soon. And when it does, these alternative paths will be moot.

The bottom line: We've seen international prospects make noise before, but we've never seen two young Americans — both active on social media with massive followings — playing overseas while their former classmates play on campuses. Should be an fun storyline to follow.

Go deeper: A look at this season's college basketball storylines