KU coaches say hey to Hampton before 2020 guard heads north for Late Night
While the featured recruiting event of the week arrives Friday, when the Kansas basketball program tips off the 34th annual Late Night in the Phog at Allen Fieldhouse and welcomes a dozen or so important recruits to town for the event, KU coach Bill Self was on the road recruiting on Tuesday.
Self and KU assistant Jerrance Howard on Tuesday made a quick jaunt south to Little Elm, Texas, to visit Class of 2020 guard R.J. Hampton.
Hampton posted on Twitter a photo of him and Self together in a classroom, with the hashtag #RockChalk added to the post.
It won’t be the last time the KU coaches see Hampton this week. The Little Elm guard is slated to take an unofficial visit to KU for Late Night on Friday and it may not be the last time he comes to town.
His father, Rod Hampton, recently told Kentucky Rivals site CatsIllustrated that the new rules allowing for juniors and seniors to take up to five official visits could benefit players like his son, who draw heavy attention early on in their high school careers.
“You always want to get a second look,” Mr. Hampton told CatsIllustrated. “The first trip you watch practice, meet the academic advisors, and tour the campus. The second trip to a school is more for enjoyment. You go to put a bow on things. You already know different things about the school from the first visit. It's early in the process, but you have to dive in and learn all you can.”
The 6-foot-5, 170-pound combo guard is currently ranked as the No. 5 overall recruit in the 2020 class and, thanks to recent movement in his recruitment, it appears as if that’s where he will stay.
Hampton, you might remember, had considered reclassifying into the Class of 2019 but ultimately decided against a move because, as his father told CatsIllustrated this month, “It all boiled down to him being ready, physically and mentally.”
Hampton’s trip to KU this weekend will be just the beginning of a whirlwind tour of the biggest programs in the country. He recently made an official visit to Memphis and plans to follow up his unofficial visit to KU with an unofficial visit to Kentucky for the Wildcats’ Big Blue Madness the weekend of Oct. 12.
“He just needs to have a great time on those visits,” Mr. Hampton told CatsIllustrated. “There will be so much going on during those weekends that those are not good times to take official visits. There is just too much hoopla going on. When we take an official, he needs to be able to see the practice, meet with academic advisors, and see the campus. That’s almost impossible to do on those weekends.”
Like most recruits and so many of the top-tier players, Hampton’s recruitment could come down to one simple element.
“The big thing is that we want to build a relationship with the coaches as soon as possible,” Mr. Hampton told CatsIllustrated. “When you've been recruited by a school for a couple of years, you get a chance to not only learn the coaches, but to make relationships with the players as well. They will tell you how things really work in a program.”
Hampton will be joined at Late Night by three other Top 10 recruits — five-star center James Wiseman (No. 2 in 2019) five-star forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (No. 10 in 2019), and five-star center N’Faly Dante (No. 7 in 2020) — along with a dozen or so other official and unofficial visitors who want to take a look at Kansas basketball on one of its most electric nights.
While some think Duke is the early leader and the team to beat for Hampton's services, there remains a long way to go before the elite guard's recruitment is finished. Clearly, the KU coaching staff believes they're in it enough to use the time and resources to make this kind of visit — even a few days before Hampton comes up to see them — which should tell you all you need to know about how KU is prioritizing Hampton in the 2020 class.
The complete list of Late Night visitors includes: Recent KU commitment Christian Braun (unofficially), a 4-star guard from nearby Blue Valley Northwest High; Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (5-star forward from IMG, ranked No. 10 in 2019 class); James Wiseman (5-star center from Memhpis, ranked No. 2 in 2019 class); Cassius Stanley (4-star shooting guard ranked No. 31 in 2019 class); R.J. Hampton (5-star point guard ranked No. 5 in 2020 class); N’Faly Dante (5-star center ranked No. 7 in 2020 class); Chandler Lawson (No. 87 in 2019 class) and Jonathan Lawson (youngest of the Lawson brothers); Isaac McBride (4-star point guard ranked No. 109 in 2019 class); Anthony Walker (4-star power forward ranked No. 76 in 2019 class); Ty Berry (3-star point guard ranked No. 121 in 2020 class); and Bryce Thompson (4-star shooting guard ranked No. 66 in 2020 class).