RJ Hampton, the No. 4 prospect in the ESPN 100 class of 2020 recruiting rankings, has decided to graduate from high school early and reclassify to 2019, he informed ESPN on Tuesday. Hampton will now be eligible to enroll in college this summer, and he will have the option to enter the 2020 NBA draft next April.
"I've decided to reclassify to the 2019 class," Hampton told ESPN. "I am doing this because I feel that from a development standpoint, this is the right move for me at this time in order to play against the highest level of competition possible. I am eager to test myself against older and more physically developed players in order to help improve my weaknesses and prepare me for reaching the ultimate goal of playing in the NBA."
Hampton immediately becomes one of the top point guard prospects in the class, slotting in at No. 6 in ESPN's updated 2020 mock draft. His positional size at 6-foot-5 and 188 pounds with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, as well as his creativity changing speeds, operating out of pick-and-rolls and finding teammates on the move, give him potentially the highest upside of any guard in the class.
"This is a move we've been contemplating for some time and we don't take lightly," Hampton's father, Rod, told ESPN. "As someone that played in college as well as professionally in Europe, I know that you can't skip steps in a player's development. Thankfully, because of the hard work that RJ has put in in the classroom -- achieving a 3.75 GPA and a 1280 SAT -- he was able to have this option. This weekend playing against the top players in high school basketball at the Nike EYBL, as well as earlier this month at USA Basketball, my wife, Markita, and I realized that RJ is ready to take the next step and challenge himself by taking the next step in level of competition."
Hampton, a two-time gold medalist with USA Basketball at the under-16 and U17 levels, led all players in scoring at the opening session of the prestigious Nike EYBL AAU circuit this weekend, averaging 29 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game. He got to the free throw line 49 times through four games, most of any player from the 40 teams participating, and finished second overall in player efficiency rating (PER). Hampton's reclassification makes him ineligible to participate in any further sessions of the EYBL, according to NCAA rules, as graduating high school seniors are not allowed to play AAU at the U17 level.
Hampton will instead shift his focus to scheduling official visits to colleges that are recruiting him, a group that includes Kentucky, Kansas, Memphis, and most recently, Texas Tech. Hampton told ESPN he is planning to visit the Wildcats and the Tigers in the coming weeks, as well as the Red Raiders, a new development which was solidified after head coach Chris Beard agreed to a six-year contract extension Monday to remain in Lubbock. The Hamptons also expect to conduct their third in-home visit with Jayhawks head coach Bill Self in the coming days. They recently removed Duke from their recruiting list.
Hampton will complete the classwork required to receive his high school diploma in August, which satisfies the NBA's age limit requirement of being one year removed from graduation, along with the fact that he will turn 19 in the calendar year of the 2020 draft.