RJ Hampton has let the rest of the ANBL know he won't be disrespected.
Before arriving in Auckland to join the New Zealand Breakers, Hampton was often told about how physical and rough the ANBL is. However, the 18-year-old American guard made somewhat of a mockery of that notion when he was ejected early in the opening quarter of the Breakers' loss to the South East Melbourne Phoenix on Saturday night.
A scuffle broke out on the court after Phoenix forward Ben Madgen fell to the ground after running into a screen set by Hampton, exaggerating the contact to draw the foul. Hampton was then pushed by Phoenix import John Roberson and tripped over Madgen on his way to the deck.
The potential lottery pick in the 2020 NBA draft then reacted to a barb from Roberson and, after a long review by the referees, was slapped with a personal foul, a technical foul and an unsportsmanlike foul, ending his night early.
"As far as the way I handled myself, I'm not going to let nobody disrespect me," Hampton said after the game. "I regret for my team because I let my team down, I should have been in the game.
"I know that the game is physical…it's basketball at the end of the day.
"I've played against physical people — Andrew Bogut's physical, Casper Ware's physical — but I think there's a difference between being physical and being dirty."
Hampton has found his feet well in the ANBL and his rapid improvement through the season so far has been impressive to see. Comfortable with taking the ball up against much larger players, making smart plays and doing some good defensive work, he's building a strong case to be selected in the lottery of next year's NBA draft.
The 18-year-old has been an increasingly important part of the Breakers' structure this season, with his confidence rising with every game. However, his ejection put a stop to a string of impressive performances and forced him to watch as his team were blown away in the second half.
The third quarter has been a concern for the Breakers all season, and was again their downfall in Melbourne. Taking a six-point lead into the halftime break, the visitors were outscored 29-14 in the third quarter. The Phoenix put the result beyond down in the final stanza, outscoring the visitors again by a significant margin to seal the win.