Breakers sign American first-round pick

By James Perry, Ruth Smith

The NZ Breakers' much anticipated new signing was announced last night via the USA's most popular sports channel, ESPN.   After much speculation, 18-year-old point guard RJ Hampton was announced as the latest edition to the Breaker's roster for the 2019/20 season.

The team are welcoming one of the USA's hottest prospects into the fold, with Texan point-guard, RJ Hampton joining the franchise.  The announcement was made from the live on American TV as part of a segment on the show 'Get Up!' hosted by Mark Greenberg and former NBA star, Jalen Rose. 

"Next year I will be going overseas to play in the Australian Basketball League with the New Zealand Breakers," says Hampton, who is tipped to be a first-round pick in the next NBA draft.

His new team are waiting to welcome him to his new home away from home. 

"It's got everyone talking at the moment, just a wonderful thing for the club and the league as well," says Breakers veteren, Tom Abercrombie.

Described as 'trail-blazer' by Abercrombie, Hammond has turned down some big colleges to get professional experience which he hopes will fast-track his path to the NBA.

"I just kind of wanted to set the trend,  I've never wanted to be normal.  My family is coming over there, so I will have my mum, my dad, my brother, I will be living with them and it will kind of be home but basketball is a job now, so I've got to go to work now and just play basketball," he says.  

Abercrombie says that this new trend of forgoing the college basketball league and opting instead to be signed to the professional leagues could bring huge benefits not only to his team, but to the New Zealand/Australian Basketball league as a whole.

"I think that he and others will see that coming to play in the NBL is a great pathway to achieving that goal," he says, "Hopefully it's a great success for everyone and it opens the door and the pathway for other guys to come through."

Hampton's naming marks the first of the Breakers' international recruits announcements, with the franchise promising that there are more exciting announcements to come.