R.J. Hampton may have started a little mini-trend with his decision to play in the Australian NBL next year instead of attending college.
Just a few days after Hampton made his announcement last month, K.J. Martin and his family called the coaches at Vanderbilt to let them know he would be bypassing college to pursue professional opportunities. The 6-foot-6 forward from Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth, California, had committed to new coach Jerry Stackhouse and the Commodores on May 5.
"They talked about Australia, the G League, or maybe overseas," a source close to Vanderbilt told FloHoops.
"They are exploring all options," a second industry source said.
Kenyon Martin, the former NBA standout and K.J.'s father, did not return text or phone messages seeking comment. Neither did K.J. Martin or Sierra Canyon coach Andre Chevalier.
‘’K.J. is an amazing athlete with a very high basketball IQ,’’ Chevalier told ZAGSBLOG when Martin committed. ‘’He has the ability to defend multiple positions.
‘’He is focused and hard-working. His best basketball is ahead of him.‘’
Martin averaged 16.7 points and 9.8 rebounds last season for Sierra Canyon, where he played alongside Vanderbilt commit Scotty Pippen Jr., the son of the Hall of Famer and former Chicago Bulls star.
But a source close to the NBL said Martin would need development over a period of time.
"He could be a good NBL player and maybe an NBA player but that he may need more than one season to get his game and his body to that level," the source said.
Meantime, the NBL is also a possibility for LaMelo Ball, who is considering Australia along with China before entering the 2020 NBA Draft.
"And for what it's worth, I think it would actually be a very good opportunity for him," Jeremy Loeliger, the CEO of the NBL, told me for Forbes.com. "If he came and played in the NBL, I think it would go a long way in helping him answer a lot of question marks that scouts may have about his game. I think it would test some elements of his game that haven't necessarily been tested under a huge amount of pressure yet, so I think it would be a good experience for him if he did want to come and join us. But I'm sure that there are a lot of other leagues and teams that would love his services."