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Breakers' coveted US recruit RJ Hampton signs multi-million dollar deal with Chinese brand

NBL star recruit RJ Hampton has signed a five-year, multimillion dollar shoe and apparel deal with Chinese brand Li-Ning that will likely entice a new wave of US basketball prodigies to Australasia.

The 196cm tall 18-year-old point guard from Texas spurned the traditional US college route to turn professional and play a season with the New Zealand Breakers.

College players are banned from signing shoe deals.

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The 18-year-old turned down offers from some of the biggest US colleges to play for the Auckland club. Source: Breakfast

The NBL has become a legitimate option for elite US high school basketball stars looking to earn money, sign endorsement deals and receive international experience in the year before they can enter the NBA.

"This is a special opportunity for anyone, but especially an 18-year-old who is hungry to leave a lasting legacy," Hampton's father Rod told ESPN.

Hampton's Li-Ning deal is loaded with incentives.

He is projected as the No.6 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

If he is selected in the top 10 his Li-Ning contract will become the richest Chinese shoe deal ever signed by a rookie.

The company has already created a custom "RJH" logo.

Li-Ning has previously signed NBA stars Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal, Evan Turner and CJ McCollom.

Andrew Bogut's stint with the Sydney Kings before joining the Golden State Warriors for this year's playoff run, coupled with Terrance Ferguson's season with the Adelaide 36ers before the 2017 NBA Draft, have made the NBL an attractive proposition for players ineligible or unwilling to play for a US college.

LaMelo Ball, 17, the brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, will play for the Illawarra Hawks this season.

RJ Hampton
RJ Hampton Source: Getty


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