R.J. Hampton 'over 50 percent' to reclass in July, make college choice later this summer | Zagsblog
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Thursday / November 21.
  • R.J. Hampton ‘over 50 percent’ to reclass in July, make college choice later this summer

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    CARTERSVILLE, Ga. — R.J. Hampton is eyeing a reclassification decision after Peach Jam in July and then would make a college decision in August.

    It is looking increasingly likely that the 6-foot-5, 170-pound Hampton from Little Elm, Texas will be on a college campus next fall. He is considering Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Memphis and has the option of going to college in 2019 or 2020.

    Kentucky coach John Calipari, Kansas’ Bill Self, Memphis Penny Hardaway and Duke’s Nolan Smith are all here at the Nike EYBL stop watching Hampton and others.

    “I’m going to probably make my decision [on reclassifying] a week after Peach Jam, if we make it to Peach Jam,” Hampton said here Saturday at the first Nike EYBL stop. “Sometime in July.”

    He then said he would potentially make his college decision later in the summer. “Yeah,” he said.

    Rod Hampton, R.J.’s father, added that “it’s over 50 percent now that we’re going to reclass, so we’re just trying to put the pieces together.”

    Really, there is nothing much left for R.J. to prove in high school, Rod Hampton said, even though he missed out on Gatorade Player of the Year to Memphis signee James Wiseman.

    Duke has Tre Jones coming back at the point while Kentucky has Ashton Hagans returning to join Immanuel Quickley and Tyrese Maxey.

    “I’m not scared off of anybody that’s there, I feel I’m confident in my game,” Hampton said. “I know they are, too. And they’re great players. I don’t know why any great player wouldn’t want to play with more great players.”

    As for potentially playing with Jones, Hampton said the two could coexist at Duke in the post-Zion Williamson Era.

    “I mean, when you play with Tre, that’s a pass-first point guard,” Hampton said. “He looks to get his teammates involved and he’s going to stop anybody from scoring. So when you play with him, you just gotta know you got somebody that’s going to get you open. I would probably play the two and if I play the one, I’m probably going to find him.”

    Kentucky has three guards coming in or back, along with wings Kahlil Whitney and Keion Brooks, who played against one another Friday night in the Iverson Classic.

    “[Calipari’s] just basically saying, don’t fit in, just be yourself,” R.J. said. “And go out there and be yourself. The best players are going to be on the court at the end of the day.”

    Said Rod: “They’re telling me that R.J. can play multiple positions, but I’m telling them also I think he’s best with the ball in his hands. That’s why we’re in no rush. If it’s not the right fit, we won’t go there.”

    Rod said they’re OK with R.J. “time-sharing” the point guard spot at Kentucky.

    “I want him to come off screens, come off the double,” he said. “They kind of preach to use him like Devin Booker, pin downs and things like that. But one thing about R.J., he’s a closer. Two or three minutes left in the game, put it in his hands, he’s going to make the right play.”

    Rod sees R.J. as a future NBA point guard.

    “If we get to college, it’s to win a national championship first,’ he said. “But we’re not going to stop one bit on his growth or his development. We’re not going to put him at the three when we know he’s a one, we know he’s a combo guard. We’re not going to go there and not have the ball in our hands.”

    Meantime, Rod Hampton said Johnny Juzang’s impending visit to Kentucky could also factor into things.

    “It’ll be interesting if Johnny Juzang chooses them after the visit,” Rod said.

    Still, he said a Juzang commitment won’t change Hampton’s plans.

    “It won’t change nothing,” Rod said. “I’m looking at him to come in and be one of the top guys, it won’t change a thing.”

    But it wouldn’t make it more attractive, either. “No,” Rod said.

    “When you have guys like Kahlil Whitney, Tyrese Maxey, those type of guys, you can also have an overload of guys, too,” Rod said. “But Cal knows how to play those guys.”

    Hampton listed Maxey as the most charismatic recruiter among the four teams.

    “It’s gotta be Tyrese Maxey,” he said. “He’s always on me. He’s always sending me Kentucky memes and Kentucky posts, that’s my guy.”

    As for Memphis, they have Wiseman, the No. 1 player in 2019 and the projected No. 1 pick in 2020, and remain in the mix for Precious Achiuwa, Trendon Watford and Lester Quinones.

    “The draw is just to get Memphis back rocking like when [Penny Hardaway] was there,” Hampton said. “You got the No. 1 player in the country, James Wiseman, going there. What point guard wouldn’t want to play with the best center in the country?”

    He added: “That team could be special, that team could be a top-5, Final Four-type team.”

    Kansas is losing Quentin Grimes to the NBA Draft, while Devon Dotson is also going through the draft process.

    “Coach Self, he’s just been on me real hard,” Hampton said. “He was my first real blue blood type of offer my freshman year. With him, it’s been you can start something back up, you can get us back to the Final Four, to a national championship type team.

    “And with the guys they might have coming back, I don’t think they’ve gotten many commitments from many top guys, so it could be scary.” And he meant that in a good way.

    Rod Hampton said wherever they go, they won’t “run away from competition, but he has a resume. He’s a point guard at the next level. And when do you start that? You start that now.”

    Photo: USA Basketball

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.