Share Share What makes R.J. Hampton a special basketball prospect, in his own words and in the words of a scout tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email R.J. Hampton needed exactly one weekend of playing AAU this year to realize he was done with high school basketball. Just days after a standout weekend on Nikes EYBL circuit, Hampton announced he is reclassifying from 2020 to 2019 and will begin his college career in the fall.
This is not a hasty decision. Hampton and his family have been publicly contemplating reclassifying for more than a year, a move that expedites his NBA future and also puts one more blue chip recruit in college basketball next season. As Hampton decides between Kansas, Memphis, Kentucky, and Texas Tech, one lucky school is getting an instant impact freshman point guard and a potential top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Theres something that radiates from him that a lot of others dont have, said Corey Evans, a recruiting analyst for Rivals. Its hard to put your finger on it, but theres something about him thats different.
Though hes just 18 years old, Hampton already feels like hes been in the spotlight for years. This isnt the case of a late bloomer impressing scouts with one big weekend — Hampton has been consistently proving himself against the best players his age throughout his high school career. His credentials already include two medals with USA Basketball, a Gatorade Player of the Year in Texas, and a consensus top five ranking in his class.
At this point, Hampton has nothing left to prove at the high school level. He has burnished his reputation as a 65 lead guard with long arms, quick feet, and refined scoring instincts. Though Hampton has been groomed as a point guard, hes versatile enough to play either backcourt spot because of his aggressive mindset, developing pick-and-roll capabilities, and 68 wingspan. The foundation of his game is driving to the basket as he continues to hone his jump shot.
What makes Hampton special? We talked to a recruiting analyst after his decision to reclassify, and also talked to Hampton himself one year ago in Indianapolis after a weekend of playing on the Under Armour Association.
I have the mental side of the game. Im ready for that. I really need to get in the weight room and get stronger.
Theyre sending double teams at me. Sometimes triple teams. Just learning how to make the right read, make the right play. I feel like if I do that, things are going to be a lot easier as the competition gets better.
Im really comfortable at both, but my true passion is being the point guard. I think college coaches would like to play me at the one and two. Whichever one works for them is fine. Im comfortable at both.
Getting more consistent at coming down and pulling up as a shooter. Also knowing your personnel as a passer. If youre passing to a big who cant really catch, as a point guard you have to know that. You cant say its their fault if theres a turnover. You have to know where he likes the ball,.
I try to model my game a lot after Trae Young. Not really with shooting, but his ability to get into the crease of the defense and make plays out of it. Everyone saw his three-pointers, but he can pass the ball really well, too.
Just somewhere I can say is home. Somewhere that feels like a family. I want the coach to let us play through mistakes, play early and often. If a coach lets me do that, I think Ill be fine.
Kansas, theyve been on me hard since my freshman year. Coach Self is a great guy. Him and coach Jerrance Howard have really talked to me the hardest about reclassifying in the 2019 class. Theyre really just telling me theyre gonna have a good group of guys around me to play point guard, and off the ball.
He can score, he can rebound, he can pass, hes so quick footed. Theres so much potential to what he can become as a defender because hes 65, instinctive, good length, quick feet. When you put it all together and project what he could become, thats a serious NBA prospect in the coming years.
He still thinks score first, so you might think more two, but then again in todays game scoring guards are now point guards. I think hes a very good off the ball playmaker type. I think hes still ironing some things out in terms of skill set. But long term, I think hes a playmaking lead guard.
He has it all (as a passer). He can make the right reads, hes gotten better off the high ball screen, he gets downhill with the ball so quickly, he sees the swing and kick out pass to the corner. It definitely puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses with the attack dribble. I think the next step for him is becoming a better perimeter jump shooter and also decision making. He can be a little loose with the ball. Its more about evolving into the point guard position.
Where is he at as a shooter? He hit 27 percent of 26 attempts from three-point range last weekend on the EYBL.
I dont think hes as bad of a shooter as he showed the first weekend of the spring. I dont think hes a great 40-38 percent guy, but I think he can be a worthwhile 35 percent guy down the road. A lot of times these kids try to make a point by showing what they supposedly cant do instead of making it what they can do. I think its about the shot selection as a whole. I also dont think his team was super talented. He had to make some plays happen, and that might be why he shot so many threes.
I think its more about shot selection. His mechanics are decent. I think he needs to put more reps in with it. Another factor is he keeps growing. Hes grown about an inch or two in the last year or so. That changes the release point on your shot. I think in due time, once the body fills out, I think 35 percent is about right.
I still think hes first and foremost a driver, a playmaker off the bounce. I think hes also a worker. Hell improve on that minor deficiency in his game. Three, four, five years down the road, when hes playing his best basketball yet, he is a worthwhile shooter off the bounce from 22 feet.
How athletic is he? Would you say hes less explosive than someone like Anthony Edwards (a Georgia commit who also reclassified)?
He might be honestly as athletic as Edwards. I wouldnt call him explosive because of his body type, but hes a deceptive athlete, a fluid athlete, and hes so light footed. Hes not Jalen Green (a top class of 2020 recruit). Thats not what he is. But he is a way above average athlete. He can really move and surprise you every now and again.
Hes always been thee guy in the Texas area. He has a good friendship with a lot of NBA guys. He trains with DeAaron Fox in the summer time. Hes had a lot of weight on his shoulders throughout the years. And that comes with the territory when youre this acclaimed at such a young age.
Texas Tech is definitely the hot school right now when it comes to getting better and improving. You have guys like Jarrett Culver and Zhaire smith going from three-star recruits to lottery picks. I still dont really give Texas Tech much of a chance there. I dont think Kentucky has much of a chance either. I think its down to a two school race between Memphis and Kansas.
I think Kansas gets him. I know Memphis has a building, evolving cupboard of talent there. James Wiseman, DJ Jeffries, potentially Lester Quinones and Precious Achiuwa. Thats a lot of talent, but theres only one ball to go around there. i think the proof is in the pudding at a place like Kansas. Theres no way that R.J. is not starting. They could go with a two guard tandem with Devon Dotson. It makes you think twice about Quentin Grimes future at Kansas.
Heres how Hampton stacked up on Nikes EYBL circuit in April 2019 in will be his only weekend of grassroots ball this year. You can find more EYBL stats here.
Who were the 10 most productive players in the opening session of the Nike EYBL circuit this weekend? Heres how our database ranks them in terms of Value Added. The Top-3: Cade Cunningham, RJ Hampton and Ziaire Williams definitely passes the eye test. Big weekend for Texas guys. pic.twitter.com/AECNNIRp2C
Here are Hamptons stats through two appearances with USA Basketball. His 2018 run was limited because of a foot injury.
RealGM R.J. Hampton mixtape Here are Hamptons highlights from late April 2019 playing on the EYBL circuit:
Little Elm (Texas) junior point guard R.J. Hampton is one of the top players in the country, regardless of class, with a whos who of college suitors to match his five-star status. Recently, Hampton was named first team ALL-USA and has now decided to reclassify from 2020 to 2019. Hampton, who is ranked No. 2 overall in USA Today Sports Chosen 25 for 2020, has agreed to give USA TODAY exclusive access into his world by chronicling everything from his recruitment to his everyday life in a blog.
OK, I told you guys Id keep you updated on everything thats going on with me and I wanted to do a quick blog to let you know that Ive officially decided to reclassify to the 2019 class.
I just feel like from a developmental standpoint this is the right thing for me to do so I can play against the highest level of competition and test myself against older and more physically developed players. Ultimately, I want to prepare myself for my ultimate goal, which is to play in the NBA.
Anyone who follows my blog knows that this decision didnt come overnight; Ive been back and forth on this for months. I just had to really, really weigh my options.
People who arent in this position dont know how hard it is to come to this decision, but I feel like Im playing at a high level right now and I wanted to go ahead and put it out now.
I think the biggest thing that made it tough was just playing my senior year. Every kids dream is to be a McDonalds All American and play in all of those postseason all-star games, but sometimes you have to grow up and look at the bigger picture. The reality is that my ultimate goal isnt to be a McDonalds All American.
Of course you guys want to know what the next steps are for me now; my final four schools are Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis and Texas Tech.
I cut Duke from the list; they werent really recruiting me all that hard here lately so, at this point, Im just focusing on those four schools.
What Im planning to do over the next week is sit down with my parents and lockdown some dates for visits. Ill probably do an official to Kentucky and Texas Tech and just get back on campus at Memphis and Kansas since Ive already taken officials there.
With Kentucky, what I love is the message Coach Cal preaches, he really cares about the players. He cares about players succeeding more than winning. He always says that whoever can shoot the best, dribble the best, rebound the best, those are gonna be the guys that are gonna be on the floor. Im confident in my game and I know that if I went to Kentucky that Id make an impact.
With Kansas, they were the first Blue Blood program to offer me and Coach Self and Coach Jerrance have really been there from the beginning. They keep preaching that if I come there I can be their go-to guy that can get them back to the Final Four and win a national title.
With Memphis youve got Coach Penny and Coach Miller telling me that I can be the final piece for them next season. Youve got a five-star center in James Wiseman to play with and what point guard wouldnt want o play with a dominant big like that is their message. Then theyve got the all-NBA coaching staff to teach me so I know Id grow so much there.
With Texas Tech, I really like the way Coach Beard uses his guards and the freedom that he gives them. I also like how he demands that his players play defense. I feel like that would be a good fit.
OK guys Ive gotta get going, but I wanted to keep you all in the loop and give it to you in my own words. Ill keep you updated throughout the process.
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