NBL’s American appeal
Aussie league ideal gateway for young stars
NBL Next Stars teen sensations LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton are taking home a combined pay packet of approximately $800,000 for this season, opening the door for more American talent to bypass college and play in Australia.
News Corp understands Ball and Hampton are earning roughly $400,000 each to play for Illawarra and New Zealand respectively. The NBA draft hopefuls can also make money from endorsements such as shoe deals, placing them in a strong position financially compared with US college.
The NCAA doesn’t pay its players or allow them to earn extra cash through their personal brands.
This stance in the US college ranks makes the NBL’s Next Stars program extremely enticing for young high school players. Instead of playing college basketball for free, players can earn decent money in the NBL through their wage and endorsements.
Hampton has signed a multi-million-dollar shoe deal with Chinese company LiNing, while multiple companies have been chasing Ball.
The Australian league also provides athletes with the chance to hone their skills competing against seasoned campaigners. Ball and Hampton’s time in the NBL to date has been a significant success.
Almost 1.9 million people tuned into the pair’s first match-up in Auckland last Thursday via Facebook, making it the most watched NBL game in history. This record audience surpassed the one million views for Ball’s first game for Illawarra against Brisbane on October 6.
The LaMelo Ball effect has been in full force with fans keen to get to know the younger brother of New Orleans guard Lonzo Ball and the son to his outspoken father, LaVar.
Perth’s recent home game against Ball’s Hawks attracted 13,550 fans — the highest attended game between the two teams in NBL history.
DRAWCARDS: LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton.