Four teams, including the Cincinnati Reds and the Arizona Diamondbacks, came calling for Maurice Hampton Jr. at the end of the MLB Draft’s first round on Monday. The highest offer he received was for a signing bonus of $1.8 million.
But the 17-year-old turned down the money.
“Emotionally it was tough, but in my head, I knew what I wanted and I didn’t get it. So it was a no-brainer,” Hampton Jr. said.
Mock MLB Drafts during the high school season projected Hampton, a Memphis University School outfielder, as a first-round draft pick. He and his family agreed prior to the draft on how much money it would take for him to skip college.
His father, Maurice Hampton Sr., felt that there wasn’t enough money on the table to justify walking away from LSU. He discussed the offers with his son and a pair of advisers. They concluded that Maurice should go play in college.
“I’ve always had a plan for him. And he has a 17-year-old mind, so I have to kind of be the guardian. I know it was disappointing for him,” Hampton Sr. said. “If you throw that in front of some kids they’re going to say ‘Just let me do it,’ but I feel in my heart that I have to do the best thing for my son.”
Hampton said that he will report to LSU this month. He plans to play both football and baseball for the Tigers. Hampton Sr. said that his son’s commitment to LSU football may have affected the way some teams viewed him.
“A lot of advisers said that the Kyler Murray situation did do some damage to the two-sport athlete,” Hampton Sr. said. “But from day one, I’d never change anything. He’s good in football, he’s good in baseball, he has excelled in both and the proof is in the pudding. I would never do anything different that what he did.”
The four-star cornerback is the top-ranked football prospect in the state.
He was Tennessee Titans Mr. Football in Division II-AAA and led Memphis University School to an appearance in the DII-AAA state title game with 1,835 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns as a wide receiver and as a returner on special teams.
On the baseball diamond, he hit .480 with 10 home runs for the Owls. He was named the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association’s DII-AA Mr. Baseball last month.
He is the first Tennessee player to win Mr. Football and Mr. Baseball in the same season.
Reach Khari Thompson at KAThompson@gannett.com and on Twitter @_KhariThompson.
Reach Tom Kreager at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @Kreager.