Australia’s dreams of taking the gold medal at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup are over after they were defeated by Spain in a double-overtime semi-final.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he is “a little jealous” teenage US basketball star RJ Hampton made the surprise decision to play for the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL rather than the NBA’s G League.
The NBA is offering $US125,000 contracts to elite players coming out of high school to play in their development G League for a year before attempting to get drafted to the NBA.
Hampton, an 18-year-old point guard from Texas, on Tuesday spurned the G League and scholarships at top colleges including Kansas, Memphis and Texas Tech to announce he will play for the Breakers in the NBL.
“I am a little jealous because we are, in our G League, trying to create our own professional track,” Silver told ESPN on Wednesday.
“I haven’t talked to him yet or his advisers, but to the extent he decided he was better off in Australia than our G League, I think I’m going to talk to Commissioner Shareef (Abdur-Rahim) of the G League and say, ‘What should we be looking at differently?'”
Silver was full of praise for the NBL and Australia’s junior development programs, including the Australian Institute of Sport.
“First of all, Australia has a fantastic development system,” Silver said.
“Australia, I may get this off a little bit, but I think their population is around 24 million.
“For a country of 24 million they have around a dozen NBA players in the league right now.
“So, pound-for-pound one of the best basketball countries in the world.
“We have studied the Australian academy system.
“They take their young players and they move them, I don’t know if they call it a professional track, but they become full-time ball players.
“Once they hit 14 or so they are designated based on aptitude they have shown.”
Silver said the NBA was so impressed by Australia’s development system it inspired the NBA to create its own basketball academies in China, India and Africa.
The commissioner said he understood Hampton’s decision and paid Australia, New Zealand and the NBL a major compliment.
“If I had a son or I was advising someone and said, ‘Where are you going to go to develop?’ Australia is one of the best places to do that,” Silver said.