The five-star Texas guard spent his first game Saturday at the Nike EYBL session pestering his opponent for the second straight game, torching Phenom University for 41 points and six assists, while coaching representatives from his remaining suitors — Memphis, Kansas, Kentucky and Duke — watched.
Then afterward, in the midst of a media scrum, Hampton delivered some words for Wiseman, a Tigers signee and No. 1 overall 2019 prospect.
The guard said that the most charismatic signee that’s recruiting him to reclassify from 2020 and join him next season is Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey.
So is that a challenge for Wiseman?
“Yeah, it is,” Hampton said. “James, if you’re out there listening, you need to step it up.”
Wiseman has been recruiting Hampton to join him in the 2019 class since September, and still hasn’t let up.
ALL-USA: Hampton, Wiseman on First Team
“Me and James talk a good bit,” Hampton said. “I like what Memphis has going on, with the recruiting class that they have coming in, and hopefully they get more pieces.”
“I think Lester (Quinones) may be close to committing.”
Hampton’s decision to reclassify to 2019 likely won’t come until July, but it is the more likely scenario, he said Saturday. He has been taking summer classes to graduate high school early.
Because of the timetable, Hampton also had the chance to see whether potential ball-dominant guards like Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans and Duke’s Tre Jones would return to school or leave for the NBA.
They both opted to return, but Hampton insisted that he wouldn’t be scared away from a crowded backcourt.
“I’m not scared off by anybody that’s there,” Hampton said. “I’m confident in my game and I know they are, too. I think they are great players, and who wouldn’t want to play with great players?”
In addition to key guards Alex Lomax and Tyler Harris returning, Memphis could also potentially add Quinones and graduate transfer Rayjon Tucker from Little Rock.
“I can play with anybody, I can be a (shooting guard) or (point guard). If you need to pass, I can do that. If you need me to play defense, I can do that. This is a team sport, and when you’re winning, other players get recognized, too.”
What RJ Hampton said about Memphis
There’s no question among those lobbying for Hampton’s signature, the Tigers are the school that doesn’t quite seem like the rest.
While Memphis is rich with basketball tradition, the Tigers haven’t made an NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014, and a Final Four since 2008.
It’s different from the traditional blue bloods of Kentucky, Duke and Kansas that linger on the five-star’s list, but that’s also one of the reasons that the Tigers and coach Penny Hardaway are so appealing.
“The draw is just to get Memphis back rocking like when (Hardaway) was there,” Hampton said. “You got the No. 1 player in the country, James Wiseman, going there. What point guard wouldn’t want to play with the best center in the country?”
“That team could be special, that team could be top five, Final Four type of team.”
Connecting with Mike Miller
For the second day in a row, Hampton’s game was flooded with college coaches, including Bill Self, John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski.
For Memphis, it was assistant Mike Miller who represented the Tigers, standing in the same location as the day before next to Hampton’s bench.
Hampton said it’s Miller who has made the connection with Memphis possible over his recruitment.
“Mike Miller, he’s definitely a different recruiter,” Hampton said. “That’s probably one of my favorite recruiters. I know that if I don’t go to Memphis, or if I do — I know I can have a relationship on down the line. He’s just cool, laid back, humble. He’s just a fun guy in general.”