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Brooklyn Nets Draft Prospect: RJ Hampton

Dynamic guard skipped college for a season with New Zealand Breakers

Ahead of the Nov. 18 NBA Draft, we’re taking a look at potential Brooklyn Nets draft picks with players that have been prominently projected for the Nets through multiple mock drafts. Analysis of individual players has been drawn and summarized from these external media outlets and does not reflect the views of the Brooklyn Nets.

Texas high school star R.J. Hampton caused a stir when he opted against playing college ball and headed to Australia’s National Basketball League, apparently the first player to take that course who wasn’t facing potential college eligibility questions. After one season with the New Zealand Breakers, he’s headed for the NBA.

SAYS WHO?

Hampton has been projected for the Nets by both ESPN and THE RINGER, as well as CBS SPORTS and THE SPORTING NEWS.

SO, WHO IS HE?

Hampton’s path makes him one of the draft’s most intriguing stories. A consensus five-star recruit out of high school, his college short list included Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis and Texas Tech before he announced live on ESPN’s Get Up that he was going to play professionally in the NBL.

“My No. 1 goal is to play in the NBA,” said Hampton in making his announcement. “I wanted to be an NBA player before I ever wanted to be a college player. This is about getting ready for the next level faster and more efficiently.”

At the time he announced he was turning pro, ESPN had Hampton projected as the No. 6 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, but he’s currently consistently in the teens in most mock drafts and prospect rankings. A 19-year-old, 6-foot-5 guard, Hampton played 15 games in the NBL before leaving the team in February to return to the United States and prepare for the draft.

WHAT’S HE DONE?

Hampton was the Texas Gatorade Player of the Year for the 2018-19 season after averaging 32.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 3.9 steals per game during what was his junior season, before he reclassified at the end of the year and then eventually turned pro. Hampton was chosen for USA Today’s All-USA First Team and the Max Preps All-American Second Team. He’s also played twice for USA Basketball, with the Under-16 team in the FIBA Americas Championship in 2017 and the Under-17 team in the FIBA World Cup in 2018, winning gold medals in both competitions.

WHAT ARE THEY SAYING?

ESPN called Hampton “one of the best athletes in the draft.” He’s been lauded for having an explosive first step and excels on drives to the rim. He’s got excellent court vision and passing skills, projecting as a strong playmaker. An inconsistent jump shot is the primary area for improvement offensively.

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