R.J. Hampton isn't the only youthful overseas prospect that will make a debut with the New Zealand Breakers. Meet the Breakers' latest signing: 19 year old, 6'5 Chinese guard Li Tian Rong, or Terry Li.
Li, who hails from Shandong, China, has been honing his skills at Canberra's Centre of Excellence (CoE) with the NBA Global Academy since late 2018, and participated in multiple NBA Academies events including the 2018 NBA Academy Games in Canberra, exhibition games in NBA G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas last year, and NCAA’s Next Generation Sunday event in April 2019.
Terry Li will be the first NBA Academies prospect from China to sign a contract with a professional team. “I feel honoured as a Chinese player to have this opportunity, and my goal will be to break into the top team.”
Terry’s signing is a new milestone for the NBA Global Academy, which has seen multiple commitments since its launch, including Sudanese-Australians Wani Swaka Lo Buluk to the NBL's Perth Wildcats, Anyang Garang at the University of Oklahoma, and Australian Alex Ducas to the St. Mary’s College Gaels.
It was unsurprisingly, Hampton's signing with New Zealand that prompted him to investigate the opportunity, over US college basketball.
“At the start of this year, I was making plans to go to America to play NCAA college basketball, but during a three-day visit to Auckland to meet the Breakers, I immediately felt comfortable with the club’s management,“ Li shared, via the Breakers. “I am super excited to start competing every day against my American teammate R.J. Hampton.”
“Terry is a good outside shooter with basketball intelligence and athleticism,” Breakers owner, Matt Walsh said. “He is an excellent athlete who is strong playing both positions of the backcourt, with no fear of contact and it is those qualities we are looking for in a player to attract to this club.
"One of the great things about Terry is he's all basketball, all the time. He's a guy who I think we're going to have to tell to take a break. One of his big things is he wanted to live close to the gym because he's such a hard worker, I think he'll be in here twice a day, getting up extra shots, working on his game and I think with his work ethic he'll have a chance into develop into a really good player in the NBL."
Li is committed to a three-year deal, starting as a development player (DP), and will arrive in New Zealand in three weeks' time. New Zealand continue their offseason hunt, with three slots still available, and could potentially field a lineup with five overseas players: Hampton, Li, and three overseas imports.
The Breakers will play their first game on 18 October 2019 against the Sydney Kings.