One class of 2019 prospect was in Lawrence on an official visit. Another top KU target opened up about his recruitment at a USA Basketball event in Colorado Springs. And yet another hinted about making a commitment this fall instead of waiting until the spring.
It was that kind of weekend on the action-packed recruiting trail for the Kansas men’s basketball program, which welcomed four-star Minnesota forward Zeke Nnaji to town for an official visit after conducting an in-home visit with the power forward a couple of weeks ago.
Nnaji, an AAU teammate of Top 10 forward Matt Hurt’s, and the No. 37-ranked player in the 2019 class per Rivals.com, is down to a final five of Kansas, Arizona, Baylor, Purdue and UCLA and is smack-dab in the middle of his visit process.
Nnaji is scheduled to take official visits to his four remaining finalists, starting with Arizona this weekend, through the first weekend in November. His father recently told Adam Zagoria, of ZagsBlog.com, that Nnaji plans to make a decision “around” Nov. 24.
Speaking of Hurt, the five-star forward from Minnesota was in Colorado Springs over the weekend, participating in yet another USA Basketball event — the USA Basketball October Minicamp — and Rivals.com recruiting analyst Eric Bossi caught up with him for a conversation about his otherwise quiet recruitment.
As expected, Hurt — who was joined in Colorado Springs by another player at the top of KU's 2019 target list, five-star forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl — said he’s in the process of trying to nail down some official visit dates and wants to take them on a weekend when he can visit each school for a game and get a true feel for each program.
“Like on a Saturday, when I can come down and see the real atmosphere and environment for a game,” he told Bossi. “I want to see how they prep a team before a game and stuff like that because I’ll consider a lot of that in my decision. Football games are probably more fun type visits because you are there with the team and the students having fun. But I think I will get more out of it by going to a basketball game.”
Although the 6-foot-9, 200-pound, do-it-all forward has yet to announce any kind of cuts to the enormous list of schools pursuing him, Hurt provided Bossi with a de facto final seven over the weekend, naming Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Minnesota and North Carolina while saying those programs “are primarily the ones who are contacting me a lot. I probably wont’ cut any schools, but it’s really seven or eight.”
Because prospects are allowed just five official visits, Hurt will not be able to officially see all seven schools on that list. While that might not have a bearing on his decision, the way he sets up his visits could end up being a quiet way to trim a couple of schools from the list.
Finally, there also was weekend news from James Wiseman, the 7-foot center from Memphis ranked No. 2 overall in the 2019 class by Rivals.com.
Wiseman, who also was at the USA Basketball minicamp in Colorado Springs, offered up an update on a timeline for his decision.
“The commitment is probably going to happen at the end of this year,” Wiseman told Bossi. “Me and my mom and my sister are still talking about it. Soon though.”
As for what has stood out to him about his recent interactions with Kansas, Wiseman pointed to KU coach Bill Self.
“Just him not selling himself like the other coaches do,” said Wiseman of Self’s approach. “He was being real with me and telling me what I need to work on and really just really saying about how he would like to develop me into a great player some day.”
Rivals.com analyst Corey Evans caught up with five-star forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl this week and posted an update on Robinson-Earl’s recruitment on Thursday afternoon.
The former Bishop Miege standout who transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for his senior season, has long been at the top of KU’s wish list in the 2019 recruiting class and he is fresh off of an official visit to KU for Late Night last weekend.
“It was good,” Robinson-Earl told Evans of his Late Night experience. “I felt like I got a different perspective because it was more laid back and they showed me a lot more. They have told me a lot of stuff in the past, but this time I was really able to see it during practice and watch some film on who they have had in the past and how they like to run stuff through the four, as well. Versatile 4s are very successful there, being able to rebound, push the ball and shoot it.”
Robinson-Earl joined Evans to break down all five of his finalists, but was asked specifically if leaving the area has made him long to return to Kansas for college.
“It would be cool being able to play where my dad (Lester Earl) played and also having my family there and all of my friends that I have back in Kansas City,” he told Evans. “So it would be pretty much home and be a very good fit.”
On our latest Recruiting Trail podcast, KUsports.com recruiting insider Matt Scott said, “Kansas is sitting just fine with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.”
In his recent interview with Evans, Robinson-Earl hinted at a timeline for a decision. “At least before the season starts in late November,” he said. “And if I know where I want to go, I will just commit.”
The early signing period is scheduled for Nov. 14-21. If JRE does not sign by Nov. 21, he will have to wait until April to make his commitment official.
To almost no one’s surprised, five-star Class of 2019 guard Josh Green on Thursday orally committed to the University of Arizona via one of those social media videos that have become oh so popular.
Green, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from IMG Academy and the No. 11 overall prospect in the 2019 class per Rivals.com, chose Arizona over a final six that included North Carolina, Kansas, USC, Villanova and UNLV.
In reality, though, this was a decision that came down to Arizona and North Carolina, as Kansas had been unofficially eliminated several weeks ago.
With his size, length and serious athletic ability, Green would have been a nice addition for any roster. But the Jayhawks already have added two guards in the 2019 class — 6-f5 Christian Braun and 6-1 Issac McBride — and still are in serious pursuit of four-star freak Cassius Stanley, the No. 31-ranked player on Rivals’ board.
Long ago, there was some talk about Green exploring a reclassification and moving into the 2018 class — at least considering it has become the in thing these days — but it never came to fruition. Had he, that might have put him higher on KU’s priority list given the fact that the Jayhawks are currently operating with one open scholarship in the wake of Sam Cunliffe’s decision to transfer.
It’s a moot point now. And just because they had space does not mean Green would’ve have become a Jayhawk. He’s a Wildcat now and the Jayhawks will continue their pursuit of Stanley as the premiere shooting guard they want in the 2019 class.
His visit to KU for Late Night and subsequent good time made Wednesday’s news less surprising.
But it is official nonetheless.
Class of 2019 five-star center James Wiseman, of Memphis, narrowed his list to a final five on Wednesday and Kansas made the cut.
Joining the Jayhawks in Wiseman’s final five were: Kentucky, Memphis, Vanderbilt and Florida State.
It’s still too soon to know when a final decision might come. And, yes, most recruiting analysts out there believe this one is destined to come down to a showdown between the hometown Memphis Tigers and John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats.
But Kansas is still putting in plenty of work and would not be doing so if the coaching staff did not believe they were still in the mix.
In addition to welcoming Wiseman to town for Late Night, KU’s coaching staff made a visit to Memphis to see Wiseman in early September.
To date, Wiseman has taken two of the three official visits he had scheduled (Kentucky on Sept. 13 and KU last weekend) and he is expected to be at Vandy this weekend.
Naturally, the 7-foot, 210-pound prospect has made several unofficial visits to Memphis but may add an official trip to both his hometown program and Florida State in the future.
Wiseman recently spoke with Pat Lawless of PrepCircuit.com about the status of his recruitment and he talked a lot about Late Night, some big picture stuff about the process in general and even hinted at a time table for a decision.
“I’ve been thinking about it and I think it will probably be around the end of this year or maybe the beginning of next year,” Wiseman told Lawless. “It’s a really hard decision so I have to be cautious, but I still make sure to trust the process. I pray every night that I go to the right school. I think it’s going to be soon and not too far down the road.”
As for his trip to Late Night, as if the joy on Wiseman's face was not enough to prove how much fun he had, his words to Lawless certainly backed that up.
"I went to Late in the Phog and it was amazing," he told Lawless. "It was a really fun atmosphere, I had a great time and I just created a great relationship with Bill Self right away. As soon as I walked in the gym everyone was screaming my name from the student section. (Class of 2019 SG) Cassius Stanley was on the visit with me and I thought we connected pretty well. We just had a great time and I thought the players were great to talk to. They spoke about everything including things that would be helpful behind the scenes. I interacted with the coaching staff and the players so I had a great time over there.”
Officially listed as a point guard on various recruiting websites, recent KU commitment Issac McBride, who officially chose KU over Auburn and Virginia on Monday, views himself in a slightly different light.
“I feel like I can play the 1 or the 2,” McBride said during a conference call with reporters on Monday. “Combo guard. I feel like I can come off screens, but I can also play on the ball some and get everyone involved.”
Sound familiar? Kansas coach Bill Self has made a living — and put together some of his absolute best teams — with players who perfectly fall under that description. And the 6-foot-1, 180-pound McBride appears to be capable of making an impact at Kansas as soon as he arrives.
Self, who actually compared McBride to former KU star Frank Mason III during visits with the guard and his family, said as much while targeting the Little Rock, Ark., prospect during the past several months.
“Coach Self was very excited for me (when I told him I was committing to Kansas),” McBride said. “And he told me if I come in and work my butt off, I can make an impact on the team. They’re going to need guards that are going to consistently stay there three or four years. Coach Self was honest with me and the promises that he made, if I work hard, they will be fulfilled.”
So now that we know McBride can play both positions, we might as well find out which one he prefers, right?
“It doesn’t matter,” he admitted. “Once you really get out there, it’s just playing basketball. True players, they just get out there and react. It’s not whether, oh, I’m playing the 1 or I’m playing the 2. If you’re a basketball player, you’re just out there playing and having fun.”
Having fun does not sound like a problem for McBride, who said he was overjoyed at KU’s interest in him, which reached its peak when Self and his staff saw him in Las Vegas this summer. After learning that Self had spoken with his father and KU had, in fact, offered him a scholarship, McBride, who goes by the nickname “Mackey,” which also was his grandfather’s nickname, said he felt, “a sense of excitement and relief.”
“I was shocked at first,” he added. “But just having that on the offer list was great.”
Despite the big-time offer from the blueblood program, McBride took his time and vetted all of his potential suitors to make sure of three things: 1.) That he felt a connection to the people and the place; 2.) that he believed he could develop his game at his chosen school; and 3.) that he picked a school with strong academic programs to his liking.
After visiting KU for Late Night and checking all three boxes, it came down to McBride believing in himself and his game.
“There are some more parts to it that, of course, I can still work on,” he said. “But I feel like I can do it all.”
Asked to describe his game, McBride began and did not stop for a while.
“I feel like I’m a pretty strong guard, poised,” he said. “I try to make the right decision and, through the statistics, I got better from my sophomore to junior year, concerning AAU, making better decisions and not turning it over a lot.
“I feel like I can score on all three levels. I can shoot the deep 3, shoot a 3, mid-range, get inside, draw contact and finish. On the defensive end, I can pick up and guard your 6-5s, 6-4s, and I can also get into your quicker guards and try to speed them up.”
Did he forget anything? Doesn’t sound like it. Instead, he sounds like a player for which Self will find plenty of uses in the years ahead.
A source with knowledge of Issac "Mackey" McBride's recruiting plans told KUsports.com on Monday afternoon that the four-star prospect from Little Rock, Ark., will make an announcement regarding his college choice at 5 p.m. Monday.
McBride, a 6-foot, 180-pound, rising guard who exploded onto the recruiting scene with a strong summer, is ranked No. 109 in the 2019 class by Rivals.com.
He has a final three of KU, Auburn and Virginia.
In addition to making a visit to KU over the weekend for Late Night, McBride recently talked with Rivals about his three finalists.
McBride on Kansas: “I feel like it’s a very high-caliber program. They just picked up two really talented guards in Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson. They are always recruiting good guards and good big guys. They always have a team good enough to make a run in the tournament.”
McBride on Auburn: “Auburn is a great school. Coach (Bruce) Pearl definitely lets their guards go. They all can shoot it and they have a lot of options. What they lack in size they make up for in heart. Coach (Wes) Flanigan recruited me at UALR and he kept recruiting me when he went to Auburn.”
McBride on Virginia: “Virginia is one of the best basketball programs in the country. They are known for their philosophy on the defense. Coach (Tony) Bennett is a great coach and an even better person. He develops great players and knows what he’s doing.”
When asked about his visit to KU on Sunday by KUsports.com recruiting insider Matt Scott, McBride said: "The visit was amazing. The atmosphere was crazy. Truly something you can only experience if you are in the Fieldhouse."
He added that his decision would be coming "soon," and we now know that soon meant about 24 hours later.
Stay in touch with KUsports.com throughout the evening for McBride's decision and reaction to whatever move he makes.
This past weekend was a big recruiting period for the Kansas men’s basketball program, with several official and unofficial visitors making their way to Lawrence for last Friday’s Late Night in the Phog season tipoff.
And while each of those recruits made some kind of news with their presence and reactions, one of the biggest bits of recruiting movement over the weekend came late Sunday night, when four-star big man Zeke Nnaji narrowed his list to five and kept KU on it after an unofficial visit with the Jayhawks over the weekend.
“I’ve visited great schools, been recruited by awesome programs and gotten to know amazing coaches,” Nnaji began in his announcement on Twitter. “But the time has come for me to select my Top 5: Arizona, Baylor, UCLA, Kansas, Purdue.”
The news is significant on the recruiting front for a couple of reasons. For one, the 6-10, 215-pound power forward is a legit Top 40 player (ranked No. 37 in the 2019 class by Rivals.com) and has been a steady riser on the radar of college coaches during the past several months.
For two, Nnaji, a four-star forward, and five-star prospect Matt Hurt (ranked No. 6 overall) played on the same AAU program and some analysts believe that being in favor with one could help with both.
Regardless of what happens with Hurt, who remains one of KU’s absolute top targets in the 2019 class, Nnaji appears to be worth recruiting all on his own. That much was obvious last month, when several programs, including KU, made in-home visits with Nnaji. Here’s what the big man had to say about welcoming KU shortly after the visit.
“Coach Self came in for an in-home visit on the same day Kentucky came through so that was just crazy to have two legendary coaches in my house,” Nnaji told Rivals.com’s Krysten Peek. “With Kansas, coach Self was just telling me how he coached Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid at the same time and made it work. You can have a top recruiting class come in and he was saying how he makes it work every year. They’re a great program...”
With good size, athleticism and length and an offensive game that is continuing to evolve, many believe Nnaji could wind up playing and paying off at a level much higher than he currently is ranked.
According to Peek, the Minnesota native plans to make a decision in late November and will start taking official visits this month. Given the fact that prospects get five official visits, it would make perfect sense for Nnaji to visit all five of his finalists before making a decision.
Outside of which programs are on the list, the biggest news here, at least in my mind, is that Kentucky did not crack his Top 5. For one, Kansas and Kentucky came in on Nnaji a little late and about the same time. For two, I’ve read reports that UK had made a big impression on Nnaji, so seeing that KU made an even bigger impression has to be considered a good sign for the Jayhawks.
There’s still plenty of work to be done and Kansas is still in the mix for a lot of other talented players in the 2019 class. But, at least with Nnaji, the clock is ticking and the next few weeks figure to be huge.
One last wrinkle in the Nnaji recruitment, his sister, Maya, was also in Lawrence over the weekend and she posted on Twitter her appreciation for receiving a scholarship offer from KU along with a picture of her and Kansas coach Brandon Schneider.
Don’t get too excited there, though. Kansas is just playing catch-up with Arizona and Purdue, two of Nnaji’s final 5 who already had offered a scholarship to Maya, a rising prospect in the Class of 2022.
Adam Zagoria Tweeted on Monday afternoon that Nnaji's father laid out for him the dates of the 4-star forward's official visits. It looks like KU is up first.... this weekend.
Kansas - Oct. 5-7
Arizona - Oct. 12-14
UCLA - Oct. 19-21
Baylor - Oct. 26-28
Purdue - Nov. 2-4
Zagoria also said that the plan, as of now, is for Nnaji to make a decision "around" Nov. 24. What's interesting about that is, the early signing period for Division I basketball runs from Nov. 14-21. So if Nnaji waits until the 24th to make a decision, he'll have to wait until April 2019 to actually sign with the school he picks.
He could, of course, sign the papers before announcing the decision, which has happened plenty of places, including KU, during the past several years.
Time will tell. For now, the Jayhawks will focus their efforts on getting him and worrying about the ink and paper at a later date.
The first wave started trickling in late Thursday night and they will continue to make their way to town throughout the day Friday.
It might not be signing day — or even a signing period — but in the world of college basketball recruiting, today is about as big as it gets for the Kansas men’s basketball program.
A dozen or so prospects from the next three recruiting classes will be at Late Night tonight, taking in the scene and getting their first — or sometimes second or third — taste of what Kansas basketball is all about.
The packed house. The adoration from the fans. The wild atmosphere, with lights, fog — or is it phog? — and, of course, a Grammy-winning rapper like 2 Chainz.
All of this, and more, is what makes KU’s season tipoff event one of the most popular and celebrated throughout the country and what makes so many recruits, year after year, put this on their recruitment bucket list. They might not always come their senior years, but most of the top prospects in the country in every class try to get to Late Night at least once, be it on an official visit or an unofficial visit.
Heck, some prospects have shown up for the event even knowing they weren’t coming to Kansas just because they get five official visits and wanted to see what the buzz was all about. It might not have changed their minds, but even those guys leave in awe of the spectacle that is Late Night.
While Late Night is just one part of what goes into recruiting these players, it is among the most powerful tools the Kansas coaching staff has at its disposal for inspiring a recruit to pick Kansas. Sometimes what they experience at Late Night sticks with them for months and becomes a part of a bigger decision down the road. Other times, prospects have been so blown away by the Late Night extravaganza that they have committed to KU shortly after taking in the experience.
It’s unlikely that any of this year’s visitors will make that kind of quick-trigger decision, but there’s no doubt that the KU coaching staff is hoping that Late Night helps push them over the top for a couple of these guys.
Here’s a quick look at some of the top prospects who will be at this year’s Late Night.
• Jeremiah Robinson-Earl – 5-star forward from IMG Academy (and originally Bishop Miege High) is one of KU’s top targets in the class. He’ll get a ton of attention this weekend and even though he has been to Late Night and Allen Fieldhouse before, the vibe and love he feels tonight figures to be a whole new experience.
• James Wiseman – 5-star center from Memphis, ranked No. 2 in the 2019 class by Rivals.com. Wiseman got into town on Thursday night and there’s no doubt that he will get the same kind of love and attention that JRE receives during his visit. Most believe the race for Wiseman is down to Kentucky and Memphis, but the mere fact that he’s in town this weekend gives KU a chance. And there’s no doubt that the coaches are hoping for this year’s Late Night to be one of the best ever to help pull Wiseman closer to considering KU.
• Cassius Stanley – Somewhat quietly, this 4-star shooting guard from North Hollywood, Calif., will be one of the most important prospects in the building tonight. His athleticism is off the charts and he has good size, speed, length and all-around skills. Ranked No. 31 in the 2019 class by Rivals, Stanley is a high priority for a KU program trying to pry him away from the West Coast, where Oregon and UCLA sit as his other finalists.
• Zeke Nnaji – A new name on the visitor list, this 4-star prospect from Minnesota (perhaps best and most relevantly known as an AAU teammate of Top 10 target Matt Hurt) just recently announced that he would be in attendance and he’ll take in the action as an unofficial visitor. That basically means he won’t get as much time with the coaches — to talk about role, tour facilities and feel the love — but you can bet than Bill Self and his staff will do everything in their power to remind the 6-10, 215-pound forward that they sure wouldn’t mind seeing him and his buddy, Hurt, in crimson and blue next season. Nnaji is scheduled to be here Saturday but could make it to Late Night, as well.
• Isaac McBride – The 4-star point guard ranked No. 109 in the 2019 class by Rivals.com is down to Kansas, Auburn and Virginia, and it’s entirely possible that he stands as the most likely prospect to be swayed by the wild and crazy environment that is Late Night. So many of these guys, who are being recruited by the likes of Duke and Kentucky and North Carolina, occasionally can get used to the 5-star treatment from the blue blood programs. But in the case of McBride, as solid as Auburn and Virginia are as programs, those two schools don’t put on anything close to what Late Night can be.
• Chandler and Jonathan Lawson – The youngest brothers of current KU players Dedric and K.J. Lawson will be in town for Late Night as both supportive family members and recruits. Chandler is ranked No. 87 in the 2019 class and Jonathan a tick higher a couple of classes later. It’s still a little too early in the process to truly know where either stands with regard to KU’s spot in their plans, but it’s hard to imagine them leaving town with anything but a better impression of Kansas after taking in Late Night.
• N’Faly Dante – A 5-star, Top 10 target in the Class of 2020, the Sunrise Christian center, who will be on hand with most of his prep teammates, is a huge target for KU in the next class and will have some time to digest what he experiences at Late Night while possibly electing to make a return trip a year from now.
• Speaking of the Class of 2020, 3-star point guard Ty Berry (No. 121) and 4-star shooting guard Bryce Thompson (No. 66) also will be in attendance tonight. Both are definite KU targets more in the mold of the Frank Masons, Devonte’ Grahams and Travis Relefords of the world, as multi-year, program guys, than the Top 10, elite-type talents that may only be in Lawrence for one season. Both are equally important in the recruiting game, however, as Self has shown a strong ability to blend three- and four-year guys with one-and-dones in putting together his best teams.
• Last, but certainly not least, is 4-star shooting guard Christian Braun, of nearby Blue Valley Northwest High. Fresh off of his oral commitment to KU, the local prospect will make Late Night will be his first Kansas-associated event since committing, which should give him a whole new outlook and appreciation for the place and his decision.
Cross one top-tier prospect off the Late Night visitor’s list for the Kansas men’s basketball program.
According to a Wednesday article from Adam Zagoria, of ZagsBlog.com, Class of 2020 combo guard R.J. Hampton will not be visiting Late Night after all.
Hampton, who currently is ranked No. 5 overall in the Class of 2020 by Rivals.com, welcomed KU coach Bill Self and Kansas assistant Jerrance Howard to Little Elm, Texas, earlier this week for what, at the time, appeared to be the appetizer to Friday’s Late Night main course.
Hampton Tweeted out a photo that included him standing next to Self and added the hashtag #RockChalk in the Tweet.
It’s not yet known exactly what inspired the change of heart, but it’s worth noting that Hampton was planning to visit Late Night on an unofficial visit and that his father, Rod Hampton, who told Zagoria about the change of plans, still seems impressed by what Kansas has to offer.
“[Self] said that R.J. has really earned the right to be recruited by the best of the best programs,” Mr. Hampton told Zagoria of KU's message during the recent visit. “All of them are great programs but he has to find the best fit that’s going to let him be R.J. … At Kansas they can check a lot of the boxes he needs to be successful.”
Outside of his itinerary change, Hampton’s biggest news of late came when he recently decided he would not reclassify into the 2019 class and instead would stay in the 2020 class and play out his junior and senior seasons of high school.
That still could change, of course, and No. 2 overall prospect in the 2019 class, James Wiseman, who recently took a visit to Memphis with Hampton, is among those still trying to entice Hampton to reclassify.
As for where his recruitment goes from here, it appears as if KU is still very much in the race and it’s not worth reading too much into Hampton not coming to Late Night. There's still plenty of time to get Hampton on campus and KU’s coaching staff at Late Night will have its hands full with a few key official visitors, anyway, including Wiseman and fellow-Top 10 2019 prospect Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.
According to the latest update from ZagsBlog, Hampton is slated to attend the USA Basketball minicamp in Colorado Springs, Oct. 5-7, and then will head to Kentucky for the Wildcats’ Big Blue Madness on Oct. 12.
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).