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R.J. Hampton returns to United States to recover from hip injury, prepare for NBA Draft

Feb. 4 (UPI) -- New Zealand Breakers star R.J. Hampton ended his short stint with the team and will return to the United States to prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft.

"We would like to thank RJ and his family for their time here," Breakers CEO Matt Walsh said in a statement Monday. "We are proud to have played a role in such a talented young player on his journey to the NBA."

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Hampton joins highly touted prospect LaMelo Ball in leaving Australia and New Zealand's National Basketball League prematurely. Hampton opted to leave the team to continue the rehabilitation on his injured hip in preparation for the upcoming draft in June, where he is expected to be in hot demand.

"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory," Hampton said in a video posted Tuesday on social media. "First off, I would like to thank God and also my parents and brother for making the sacrifice to come with me. New Zealand, thank you for the memories that I will cherish and hold for a lifetime.

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"To the fans that supported me and my team night in and night out, I appreciate you guys. Although my time in New Zealand has come to an end, interacting with you all on a daily basis has been a blast. ... With that being said, I will be going home to prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft in June. New Zealand will always hold a special place in my heart."

Hampton, 18, hasn't played for more than three weeks in the NBL. The young guard appeared in 15 games in the league, averaging 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

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CBS Sports lists Hampton as the 11th-ranked prospect in the upcoming draft class. ESPN ranks him as the seventh-best talent in the draft.

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