RJ Hampton is trailblazing a path of his own, and that path is likely to peak a lot of interest from young athletes leaving high school basketball and having to make a decision to go the traditional route and attend college, or go overseas and immediately cash in on their talents.
Back in May, RJ Hampton announced that he would forgo college basketball and would sign with the New Zealand Breakers of the National Basketball League which is located in Australia.
Just about two months removed from this decision to go pro right after high school, Hampton has broken another glass ceiling; Hampton has signed a shoe deal at the ripe age of 18. RJ signed a five-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Chinese-branded Li-Ning, according to ESPN.
The details of the deal have not yet been released, but according to Nick DePaula, this sneaker deal is likely to rival the NBA salary of the top 4 picks in the NBA Draft.
So Hampton’s sneaker deal isn’t expected to be quite what Zion’s is projecting able be with the Jordan Brand, but nonetheless, it’s far more than he would be making if he was attending college.
It will be interesting to see what kid of precedence this sets, there have been a couple players who have skipped college to go overseas and play. They have had varying degrees of success none have turned out to be superstars in the NBA.
Emmanuel Mudiay, and Brandon Jennings are two of the more well-known players to make this decision, both were top two prospects coming out of high school, and decided to go pro immediately. Both struggled playing professionally before coming back to America to be in the NBA.
The deal includes an offering of a signature shoe and signature apparel, coupled with a steep escalator that could kick in if he is drafted in the top 10 of the NBA Draft in 2020.
Along with signing a sneaker deal, RJ Hampton has apparently teamed up with his father and an independent designer to create his own logo that he will retain all the rights to. This means that should he ever decided to leave Li-Ning he will be completely within his right to do so, and will not face legal consequences in the way Kawhi Leonard may.
Li-Ning is far from the world-beater that is Nike, or even Under Armour, or adidas, but it has steadily built it’s brand with older, more established players in the NBA like, Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade since 2012, and recently partnered with CJ McCollum and Evan Turner. With this signing, they continue to make an attempt to distance themselves from Chinese competitor Anta, and Peak.
In what is certainly way too soon, RJ Hampton is currently expected to go top 3 in the 2020 NBA Draft which will be held next June.