R.J. Hampton Returns to USA to Recover from Injury, Prepare for 2020 NBA Draft

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2020

Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

R.J. Hampton is cutting his time in Australia's National Basketball League short in order to continue his recovery from a hip injury, the New Zealand Breakers announced Monday.

"If I was healthy I would definitely be here," Hampton said, per the New Zealand Herald's Christopher Reive. "We all in the organization thought it would be best, I'm not healthy enough to get back on the court, to go home, prepare and get healthy for the NBA draft."

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman ranked Hampton 13th in his most recent big board for the 2020 NBA draft.

The 18-year-old averaged 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 15 NBL games. He also shot 40.7 percent from the field and 29.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Wasserman spoke to an NBA scout to get a read on Hampton: "I've got Hampton top-eight. Kid is a downhill player with the craft to create and slide his way to the basket. Huge upside, also a great person to be around."

Hampton is the second 2020 prospect to return to the U.S. before the end of the NBL season. The Illawarra Hawks announced Jan. 16 that LaMelo Ball had left the team in order to continue his rehabilitation from a foot injury and focus on the draft.

James Wiseman also left Memphis in December to prioritize his draft preparation. Wiseman only made three appearances for the Tigers after being suspended for accepting an $11,500 payment from Penny Hardaway when he was in high school.

As Hampton referenced, his injury effectively ended his year. The Breakers only have two games remaining in the regular season. They have an important game against the Brisbane Bullets on Friday, which could vault them into the top four in the NBL standings.