As RJ Hampton gets ready for the biggest day of his basketball life, he has no regrets about his choice to forgo the American college system and join the New Zealand Breakers.
While the majority of this year's NBA draft class spent their pre-NBA tenure in NCAA college basketball, Hampton is one of two who elected for the Australian NBL through the Next Stars program, along with LaMelo Ball, who lined up for the Illawarra Hawks.
Hampton enters the draft as a likely first-round pick with a ceiling as high as the top 10. James Wiseman from Memphis, Anthony Edwards from Georgia and Ball have dominated the top slots in the mock drafts leading up to the event.
Hampton hails his decision to play in a professional league rather than ply his trade in college.
"I would say go for it. If you have the mental toughness, if you want to be one of the best players in the NBA in the coming years, there's no better route than to go play against professionals and learn from their experiences. I have so many great guys on my team that are seasoned pros that I still take notes from every single day.
"In college you're a baby, in a sense. When you go to the NBL or any professional league [at] 17, 18 years old you have to grow up very quick. You learn a lot of different things on or off the court, but I feel like that's only going to immensely prepare you for your ultimate goal in the NBA."
Hampton and Ball will improve on the draft day placing of the most recent player to forgo college in favour of the NBL. In 2019, wing Brian Bowen II – who was a five star recruit coming out of high school – went undrafted, after spending a season with the Sydney Kings. He now plays for the Indiana Pacers.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Terrance Ferguson was the first to benefit from the NBL route in the 2016-17 season when he represented the Adelaide 36ers, before being drafted 21st.
Playing for the Breakers in the 2019-20 season, Hampton took the court in 15 games, averaging 8.8 points in 20.6 minutes a game.
Whether that proves enough to entice one of 14 franchises to select Hampton with a lottery pick, where he is expected to go, remains to be seen. But the 19-year-old isn't fixated over where he's selected.
"I'm stoked to get drafted. Do I think I will go below 20? I don't think so. I think I'm happy wherever I go and whatever team gets me, I think they will be very lucky.
"I'm pretty nervous, I feel like I'm confident in my work. Just pretty much nervous about where I'm going to go, where I'm going to live. It's a big step.
"You ask me three or four days ago [who will pick me], I could've told you. Now teams like to keep it quiet closer to draft day, so if I had an answer I would tell you."
He has been working closely with retired All-Star Penny Hardaway and former sharp-shooter Mike Miller, who he says have helped grow his game.
"With Penny, being able to be a smart point guard and make the right reads, those different IQ things. With Mike, focus on my jump shot; I want to be one of the best shooters in the NBA in the coming years."
In early February an injured Hampton elected to return home to the US to recover and prepare for the draft which at the time, was expected to take place in its usual slot of late June. However the coronavirus pandemic stepped in and ravaged the sporting world, postponing the event by five months.
The draft will be the first virtual draft in league history. Commissioner Adam Silver will announce the picks from ESPN's studios in Connecticut, with no players or fans in attendance.
The draft begins at 2pm today.