2019 five-star combo guard RJ Hampton may officially be down to Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, and Texas Tech, but many recruiting analysts have pegged the Jayhawks as the solid favorite for several weeks now.
Texas Tech was added to his list once Duke was dropped, but they have never been seen as a serious contender. Memphis was once seen as a co-favorite with Kansas for a while, but once they added four-star guard Boogie Ellis, Arkansas-Little Rock graduate transfer Rayjon Tucker, and five-star forward Precious Achuiwa over the last week, most assumed they were out of the running, as well. With those three additions, the Tigers are now technically out of scholarships.
That would leave just the Jayhawks and the Wildcats for his services, right? Well, not exactly.
Corey Evans of Rivals.com reported last night that Memphis is still a serious option for Hampton if Rayjon Tucker, who is currently testing the NBA Draft waters, were to keep his name in the draft. He went as far as to say that they might even be the “team to beat” at this point.
And not long after, the five-star combo guard acknowledged that there is some truth to the report.
— 14 (@RjHampton14) May 18, 2019
Even with this most recent rumor, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports said that he still believes Kansas is the “firm leader” for the 6-foot-4 combo guard out of Little Elm, TX.
Regardless of the noise from yesterday, I believe that Kansas is the firm leader for RJ Hampton.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) May 18, 2019
So where does Kentucky fit into all of this?
Well, not too well, obviously.
As I wrote in Pilgrim’s Insider Notes last week (you can catch up on that here), Kentucky quietly put themselves in a better position with Hampton than most believed over the last few weeks. In fact, I genuinely believe that the five-star guard’s inner circle actually prefers the Wildcats over all of the remaining finalists from a developmental standpoint. The reality of the situation, though, is that UK’s backcourt is simply too loaded, and no matter how confident he is in his abilities, the logjam would make things too complicated.
And that’s if he decides to follow through with the college route.
Back at the Nike EYBL event in Atlanta a few weeks ago, I heard a rumor that while attending college in the class of 2019 still remained the likely outcome for Hampton, he was also contemplating the idea of heading overseas to play professionally for one season before making the jump to the NBA.
And then following the EYBL event in Indianapolis last weekend, sources told KSR that Hampton was considering signing with Puma and playing in China for one season before heading back to the states and entering the NBA Draft.
Hampton has said that he’ll likely announce his decision by the end of this month, where things will certainly be interesting. I’d still expect Kansas to be the choice, but don’t be surprised if he breaks out his Mandarin dictionary and signs a deal to play in China.