RJ Hampton could be the next big thing in basketball, and the next year of his life will set the platform for his future.

A five-star recruit out of high school, the 18-year-old had several top colleges in the States drooling over him, including NCAA heavyweights Duke, Kansas and Kentucky.

Instead, he'll forgo college and join the New Zealand Breakers in what he considers a trailblazing decision.

"I want to be the one to say they don't (have to go to college) and there's different routes," he told the Radio Sport Breakfast.


"I wanted to take on the challenge of playing grown men and seeing how I measured up."

Most NBA hopefuls opt to play in the college competition but are not paid for as long as they're a part of the NCAA competition. The most sought after NBA prospects tend to declare their eligibility for the NBA draft after one year of college, so the decision to play professionally for the Breakers means Hampton can start earning instantly.

And while he'll benefit from playing against grown men, ESPN sportswriter Pablo Torre questioned whether joining the Breakers was the best move for the young star's development.

"The question of is this a good idea for him to go do, it really depends on whether you believe former Florida player Matt Walsh - remember him? - who's now running the New Zealand team in question, whether he actually knows what he's doing when it comes to building a pilot programme centred about a first ever attempt to build NBA players, and he's going to start with this kid," Torre said on ESPN's High Noon Show.

"New Zealand sounds amazing, it seems like the perfect place to live when the world starts falling apart around us, but in terms of what they offer, I get that Australia is really passionate about basketball and this is going to be in the Australian League and that's legitimate. I get that he's going to play against former college stars and professionals who are way stronger than what he would encounter in college, but are they really going to train him up?

The 196cm (6'5") point guard has garnered comparisons to Washington Wizards star and five-time NBA all-star John Wall due to his speed and playmaking ability, but with the added danger of a reliable jump shot from both mid-range and beyond the three-point line as well as some bounce in his legs.