DRAFT TRADE: Traded to Denver Nuggets as part of 4-team deal involving New Orleans, Milwaukee and Oklahoma City
About RJ Hampton
Regarded as one of the most promising high school players in the United States, RJ made the surprise move of first reclassifying to the 2019 recruiting class, then forgoing college altogether to play professionally in the Australia-based National Basketball League (NBL) Hampton possesses an elite combination of speed, explosiveness, and length. His most noteworthy skill is his ability to attack the rim downhill in transition and isolation situations. He is smooth with the ball and is emerging as a playmaker who can create solid opportunities for teammates out of the pick and roll. Despite nice looking shooting mechanics, he struggles both with his accuracy and willingness to shoot the three-ball. This reluctance has led defenses in the NBL to often go under screens to dare him to shoot.
Defensively he has a combination of athleticism and instincts that create the potential of a high-level defensive player. Presently, he lacks upper body strength to hold his position defensively as well as the ability to finish and draw fouls. After playing 15 games in the NBL with modest success Hampton returned to the US in February to prepare for the NBA draft.
Hampton is a fluid athlete who challenges defenses with his combination of speed, quickness, and explosiveness. He is dangerous coming at flat-footed defenders when he gets the opportunity to attack going downhill.
Has a variety of tools as a scorer as he can finish over the rim, has a crafty Euro step, and a smooth handle to set up opportunities to pull up from mid-range. While not yet a good shooter, his solid mechanics present the possibility of improvement.
Hampton has all the physical tools to excel on defense. His hyper athleticism allows him to recover defensively if he is screened or beaten off the dribble to make a contest or a play on the ball.
Like many younger players, he struggles focusing defensively occasionally. He is known to regularly run straight into the chest of a big man and get screened. While generally a solid individual man to man defender he can struggle defending off the ball in particular when navigating a variety of off-ball screens.
- Spent the 2019-20 season in Australia’s NBL with the New Zealand Breakers.
- Originally intended to play college basketball in 2019-20 after reclassifying into the 2019 high school recruiting class.
- Reclassified after his strong play on the AAU circuit in the spring of 2019, when he ranked second in scoring at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (28.8 ppg).
- Averaged 32.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 3.9 steals at Little Elm (Texas) High School in 2018-19.
- Won gold medals with USA Basketball at the 2017 FIBA Under-16 Americas Championship and the 2018 FIBA U-17 Basketball World Cup.
- Averaged 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals in 20.6 minutes in 15 NBL games.
- Started his first 12 NBL games before sustaining a hip injury on Dec. 6 that sidelined him for four weeks.
- Scored a season-high 18 points vs. Cairns (Oct. 31).
- Grabbed a season-high eight rebounds vs. Perth (Nov. 3).
- Returned to the United States in February to begin preparing for the 2020 NBA Draft.
- Athletic combo guard with good size and length.
- Plays above the rim with ease.
- Has considerable burst off the bounce.
- Developing shooter and playmaker.
- Father, Rod, played at SMU and professionally in the CBA and Europe.
- Favorite subject in high school was geometry.
"[I’m learning] just how to be a professional. I’ve had a lot of guys kind of take me under their wing and just show me different things. … They’ve been playing basketball longer than I have and they can show me different things, so I just take it in and listen."
-Hampton, on being a pro at a young age
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