By now, you’ve probably at least heard the name Jalen Wilson mentioned a time or 20 in connection with Kansas basketball.
And, yeah, it appears as if there is mutual interest between the 4-star guard who recently requested his release from Michigan and KU, making a future pairing easy to see.
What you might not know, however, is exactly who Wilson is or how he got to this point.
So let’s take a look.
Originally pegged as a Top 50 recruit in the Class of 2019, the 6-foot-8, 210-pound Wilson was destined to join the Wolverines the moment his recruitment began, having been named after former Michigan legend Jalen Rose.
That, of course, did not keep other programs — including Kansas — from going after him. But nearly a year ago now, Wilson chose Michigan over finalists Baylor, Kansas, Marquette, Oklahoma State and UCLA.
He did so in style, too, releasing a 2-minute Twitter video in which he copied Kyree Irving’s “Uncle Drew” persona with “Uncle Lue,” who went to a local court in Dallas to play some pick-up games and announced his decision to attend Michigan at the end.
The biggest reason for his pick was his relationship with Michigan coach John Beilein, who recently was hired away by the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. And it’s Beilein’s departure that laid the groundwork for Wilson to reopen his commitment.
“We are thrilled to have a player of Jalen’s caliber join the program,” said Beilein in a news release after Wilson’s signing became official last November. “He is a strong, physical wing with the ability to score in a variety of ways... His versatility gives him the ability to play multiple positions on offense, and his strength allows him to be able to come in and be an impact defender.”
A four-year varsity player at Guyer High in Denton, Texas, Wilson averaged better than 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in high school and also scored nearly 20 a game while playing on the Gauntlet AAU circuit.
With his signature back up for grabs — 247 Sports’ Brian Snow recently reported that Wilson plans to consider KU, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Florida this time around — the Jayhawks have become a popular pick of many recruiting analysts given Wilson’s close friendship with 5-star prospect R.J. Hampton, who sits at the tippy top of KU’s current wish list.
There’s little doubt that the two would love to play together. And landing both players would be a huge turn of events for the Jayhawks.
While there remains a lot of work to be done to get Wilson into a KU uniform, three Rivals.com recruiting analysts are giving KU the early nod.
Eric Bossi and Corey Evans both called KU and UNC the “front runners” and added that it’s likely a “two-horse race” between Kansas and Carolina.
Added Dan McDonald: “I probably lean towards Kansas here. The Jayhawks were in strong the first time around and the possibility of pairing him up with his buddy R.J. Hampton could be a big deal. All four programs involved make sense though.”
KU assistant Jerrance Howard played a strong role in recruiting Wilson the first time around and likely will be a factor in the weeks ahead, as well.
Here’s a look at some Wilson highlights, which, to me, bring to mind a mixture of Kelly Oubre, Perry Ellis and a stronger Lagerald Vick.
- BONUS VIDEO!!!!
Hampton (No. 14 in white) vs. Wilson (No. 10 in black)
Recruiting often goes in cycles, and the cycles seem to be never-ending.
One year, a program can’t miss on its desired targets and gets just about everybody it wants and, occasionally, even a couple of players it didn’t want but lucked into.
A couple of years later, especially among the blue bloods of the college basketball world, that same program finds itself on the outside looking in for the top-tier players, having to sit by and watch while other big time programs and hall of fame coaches restock their rosters with the top talent in the land.
So it goes, on and on, year after year, decade after decade.
Duke has experienced it on both sides. Kentucky has, too. And so have North Carolina, Michigan State and others who are generally regarded as perennial national title contenders and the types of teams that always seem to load up with McDonald’s All-Americans and 5-star standouts.
Kansas clearly belongs in that conversation, as well. And Bill Self’s squad currently sits on the brink of a bounce back.
After missing out on Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Matt Hurt, Cassius Stanley and a couple of other targets in the past six months, the Jayhawks are poised to fill their remaining available spots in the 2019 class with some serious talent.
They still have to get to the finish line, of course, and landing 44th-ranked forward Tristan Enaruna, who has serious long-term potential to blossom into a star, was a good start to the spring.
But a handful of recruiting analysts appear to believe even bigger things are coming.
One of them is Rivals.com analyst Corey Evans, who, in his most recent piece, “Three-Point Play,” which was posted on Thursday, Evans’ first entry in the three-part blog was titled, “Kansas Slated To Win The Spring.”
And Evans referenced KU’s current standing with four top prospects as the reason for his claim.
Considered by many to be the leader in the hunt for Top 5 guard R.J. Hampton, who just recently reclassified into the 2019 class, KU also is right in the thick of the race for versatile forward Precious Achiuwa (No. 17), 6-foot-5 Arkansas-Little Rock wing Rayjon Tucker, who is regarded by some as the top grad transfer available, and fellow-grad transfer T.J. Holyfield of Stephen F. Austin.
All four players have visited KU recently and, perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks actually could have scholarships available for all four players, as well. That depends on who stays in the 2019 draft and what happens with Silvio De Sousa.
KU also cracked the final four for Johnny Juzang, another 2020 kid who reclassified into the 2019 class, so, clearly, things are starting to cycle back in a positive direction for Kansas, which endured a few rough months of hearing how the federal investigation had negatively impacted recruiting. Landing any of the players mentioned above — along with signing Enaruna and getting Udoka Azubuike to return — should quiet a lot of that talk.
Holyfield is likely the least likely of the bunch. And even though Achiuwa has been heavily tied to Memphis of late, it’s worth noting that Evans, on Thursday, officially switched his prediction for the 6-foot-9, 215-pound Achiuwa to Kansas.
Achiuwa has been somewhat quiet during his recruitment and is not expected to make a decision for several more weeks.
That, of course, gives all of the programs still vying for Achiuwa’s signature — KU, Memphis and North Carolina lead the list, with Georgia, UConn and possibly St. John’s in the mix, as well — time to sell the strong, high-volume scorer on their school and also gives Evans (and others) time to change his pick from KU to someone else.
Also worth noting is that 247 Sports recruiting guru Evan Daniels recently changed his crystal ball pick on Achiuwa from Memphis to undecided.
Regardless of how that specific battle plays out, Evans’ prediction that KU can win the spring remains strong.
If KU can land Hampton, it would almost certainly vault the class — currently ranked No. 29 with three 4-star signees — into the Top 10. If Tucker, Holyfield and/or Achiuwa also climb on board, you could be looking at a Top 5 class, mere weeks after KU struck out on a few other top targets and had fans in a frenzy about what Self and company would do.
Cycles, folks. They can be good and bad, profitable and excruciating. And the Jayhawks could be on the brink of riding high for a while.
Class of 2019 forward Tristan Enaruna wasted no time making his commitment to Kansas official, signing his national letter of intent on Wednesday, barely 12 hours after announcing his decision to join the Jayhawks.
The 4-star prospect from Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah, chose KU over Creighton and Miami (Fla.) and said his desire to join a big time college program ultimately won out. But Enaruna was not the only one overjoyed by his decision to join the Jayhawks.
“We have been recruiting Tristan the entire year and have always been impressed with his IQ, skill set and tremendous athletic ability,” KU coach Bill Self said in a news release Wednesday.
A 17-year-old, 4-star prospect who jumped 61 spots in the most recent Rivals.com rankings — from No. 105 to 44 — Self called Enaruna “young for his class,” but lauded his newest player’s versatility and all-around game.
“He would remind KU fans of a Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins-type from his size, athletic ability and skill set,” Self said in the release. “He is still time away from having the impact that those two players had and strength will be very important in his development. We feel like Tristan's ceiling is one that he could be one of the most complete offensive players that we’ve had here at Kansas over the last several years.”
Enaruna said Tuesday night during a phone interview with the Journal-World that his recent visit to Lawrence helped cement his desire to join Self's Jayhawks.
“The guys, the teammates, we had a good time," he said. "Obviously, the fans are amazing. I’ve always dreamed of playing on a big stage like this. I’m excited about that.”
Originally from Almere, Flevoland, Netherlands, the 6-foot-9, 205-pound Enaruna moved to the United States during his junior year of high school. During his senior season at Wasatch Academy, Enaruna averaged 10.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game while leading his team to the GEICO National Tournament in New York, where Enaruna’s sixth-seeded squad fell to No. 3 seed Oak Hill Academy.
“He had a great year,” Self said. “Tristan has been very well drilled and very well coached. He has been in the United States the last two years which should allow his transition into college to be a fairly seamless one.”
Enaruna officially becomes the third player in the 2019 class to sign with Kansas, joining 4-star guards Christian Braun of nearby Blue Valley Northwest and Issac McBride of Little Rock, Ark. Both of those players signed with Kansas in November and Self and his staff remain on the prowl for additional bodies to add to the 2019-20 roster.
Depending on what comes of KU’s four players who have declared for the 2019 NBA Draft, the Jayhawks figure to have at least two or three more scholarships available to hand out to players in the 2019 recruiting class.
Three members of the 2018-19 roster who declared for the draft — Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes and Dedric Lawson — officially appeared on the NBA’s list of 66 invitees to next week’s predraft combine in Chicago.
According to ESPN recruiting analyst Paul Biancardi, Kansas basketball target R.J. Hampton has moved up the timeline for his college decision.
Hampton, a 5-star prospect from Little Elm, Texas, who recently reclassified into the 2019 class from 2020 told Biancardi that he now plans to pick a school at the end of May instead of waiting until the completion of the AAU circuit and making a decision in July.
Kansas is one of four programs in the running for Hampton’s services, with Kentucky, Memphis and Texas Tech also in his final four.
“I want to go where I fit in, can be myself and help a team win,” was the quote from Hampton that Biancardi attached to his recent Tweet.
The 6-foot-5, 180-pound combo guard who many have called the best prep guard in the country regardless of class is the top remaining uncommitted player in the 2019 class — ranked No. 5 overall in the latest Rivals.com rankings — and is the type of instant-impact player that would provide a serious boost to whichever program he chooses.
Earlier this week, 247 Sports recruiting analyst Evan Daniels entered his crystal ball pick for Kansas in the Hampton recruitment and several other recruiting analysts have said they too are leaning toward Hampton picking KU.
Kansas coach Bill Self has been recruiting Hampton and his family for a long time and has been ultra-aggressive in his pursuit of the 5-star prospect since during the past several weeks.
Landing a player of Hampton’s caliber would be an immediate lift to KU’s 2019 recruiting haul and likely would move the Jayhawks’ current class into the Top 10.
Currently, with 4-star guards Christian Braun and Issac McBride already signed and 4-star forward Tristan Enaruna committing to Kansas Tuesday night and expected to sign his letter of intent today, KU’s 2019 class ranks 29th in the Rivals.com team rankings and is tied for 11th in average star ratings of the players in the class.
With that trio on board, Self and his coaching staff figure to have at least two more spots to fill in the 2019 class this offseason.
The Jayhawks are replacing transfers Charlie Moore and K.J. Lawson and also could be replacing current NBA draft entrants Dedric Lawson, Quentin Grimes, Devon Dotson and Silvio De Sousa.
De Sousa, who is still waiting word on his appeal of a two-year suspension by the NCAA, has said he will return to Kansas if he wins the appeal. And many people close to the program expect Dotson to be back for his sophomore season after testing his draft stock this month in Chicago.
If so desired, all four players have until May 29 to pull their name out of the draft pool, which would clear the way for their return to Kansas for the 2019-20 season.
The Kansas men's basketball program on Tuesday night secured a commitment from the third member of its 2019 recruiting class when 4-star forward Tristan Enaruna announced his commitment on Twitter just before 8 p.m.
In a phone conversation with the Journal-World, the 6-foot-9 forward from Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah, said KU's history, tradition and standing among college basketball's blue blood programs was what sold him on picking Bill Self and Kansas.
“I’ve always wanted to play on a big team, like the highest level of college basketball," Enaruna said. "And they’ve been recruiting me very hard and we kind of built a relationship. I really like Coach Self and I think that he will be able to help me become the player that I really want. I think I’m overall just a great fit for that team."
At 6-foot-9, 205 pounds, Enaruna possesses the size and skills to play a number of different positions and do different things on the floor.
“I think one of the most noticeable things about me is just my versatility," he said. "Like being able to play different positions, guard different positions and doing a lot of different stuff on the court. I like to handle the ball and get my teammates involved. I really like to pass. People think that I’m really looking to score a lot, but I love passing.”
Having said that, putting points on the board is also a strength of Enaruna's, according to KU's newest player.
“Scoring is another thing that’s one of my other strengths," he said. "Post-ups, jump shots, 3s and I really like to play in the pick and roll.”
Enaruna came to the United States from Netherlands midway through his junior season and has been on an upward trend in the recruiting game nearly the entire time. Ranked No. 44 in the most recent Rivals.com rankings, Enaruna, who picked KU over Creighton and Miami (Fla.), jumped 61 spots from the previous rankings to crack the Top 50.
"Enaruna is loaded with potential," KUsports.com recruiting insider Matt Scott said Tuesday night. "He's long, skilled and not anywhere near his ceiling. He's a future pro that has really grown since coming to the United States in the middle of his junior year. His length and skill set will be a huge asset for Coach Self and his staff."
Self has been pursuing Enaruna for months, even going as far as to take a trip to Utah to watch him play during Big 12 play last season. Enaruna said seeing Self in person in his high school gymnasium was "motivational" and made a lasting impression that inspired him to pick the Jayhawks.
If his memory served him correctly, Enaruna recalled recording a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds the night Self was in town to watch him play. Enaruna hopes that that kind of production with Self watching is just the beginning of what's to come.
“He’s one of the best coaches to ever coach the game of basketball," Enaruna said of Self. "And that’s obviously one thing that I’m really excited about.”
Enaruna is now KU's highest-ranked player in the 2019 class, which includes 4-star guards Christian Braun (No. 90) and Issac McBride (No. 103).
Self and company still figure to have at least three more scholarships to hand out in the 2019 class before the class is complete.
A decision from reclassified combo guard R.J. Hampton may still be several weeks away, but one of the top recruiting analysts in the country is ready to call it for Kansas.
On Monday afternoon, at exactly 3:42 p.m., Evan Daniels, of 247 Sports, logged his “crystal ball” pick in Hampton’s recruitment for the Jayhawks.
When asked by 247 Sports national writer Kevin Flaherty why he punched the pick in this week, Daniels said simply, “It just seems like a good fit. Right now, my gut would be Kansas for R.J. Hampton.”
Though entertaining to track, these crystal ball picks certainly do not mean anything is a done deal, though they often have been a good predictor and indicator of which program any given recruit might pick.
In the case of Hampton, the Class of 2020 5-star prospect who last week reclassified into the 2019 class, Bill Self and the Jayhawks are currently in a four-horse race for the 6-foot-5 guard from Little Elm, Texas.
Memphis, Kentucky and Texas Tech are the other three programs on Hampton’s list of finalists, and Self and his coaching staff have made Hampton a serious priority during the past couple of weeks.
Typically done recruiting the current class by this time of year, Kansas is still searching for 2019 prospects because of the departures that came following their second-round loss to Auburn in the NCAA Tournament in late March.
K.J. Lawson and Charlie Moore (DePaul) announced they were transferring and four other Jayhawks — Dedric Lawson, Quentin Grimes, Devon Dotson and Silvio De Sousa — declared for the NBA Draft.
Any of those four could still pull their names out of the drat pool and return to KU if they do so by May 29, but the expectation is that KU will have to fill at least four, and possibly five or six, spots to fill out the 2019-20 roster.
With a returning core of Udoka Azubuike, Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji and possibly Dotson, Daniels believes Hampton would be a prime addition for Kansas.
“I think he fits perfectly,” Daniels told Flaherty. “R.J. Is a true combination guard, who can (play with the) ball in his hands or play off the ball. And he’s at his best playing next to a ball-handling guard.”
During a recent interview with the Journal-World, Rivals.com recruiting analyst Kristen Peek, who just spent time with Hampton at the Nike EYBL event in Atlanta, called Hampton “the complete package.”
“He’s long, quick in the lane, a great passer and can hit the 3,” Peek said. “Plus, he’s also a big time presence on the defensive end, as well. There’s a reason why both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade stopped by to watch his game during the first EYBL live period.”
On Monday, 247 Sports released its updated rankings for the 2019 class and Hampton landed in the No. 5 overall spot as the top remaining uncommitted player available.
KU signees Christian Braun and Issac McBride were ranked No. 133 and No. 150 overall, both way up from their previous spot in the rankings.
Braun moved up 99 spots and McBride jumped 51 spots into the Top 150.
When you think about the players who have played point guard for Kansas coach Bill Self during the past 16 seasons, a very specific image comes to mind.
Devonte’ Graham. Frank Mason III. Devon Dotson. Russell Robinson. Sherron Collins. Aaron Miles.
All of them were terrific players, outstanding leaders and productive point guards for Self’s KU teams. And not one of them stood taller than 6-foot-2.
And then there’s Class of 2020 prospect Kyree Walker, a 6-foot-6 monster of a man who weighs in at 230 pounds and plays the point.
Even KU’s bigger point guards under Self, like Tyshawn Taylor, at 6-3, and Elijah Johnson, at 6-4, were not as big as Walker, who recently talked with Rivals.com’s Corey Evans about the status of his recruitment.
The Jayahwks are among a dozen or so teams seriously pursuing Walker on the recruiting trail, and his recruitment, like so many others these days, is one that carries a bit of uncertainty.
Currently ranked No. 17 overall in the Class of 2020, the 5-star prospect from Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix is another high school junior contemplating the idea of reclassifying into the Class of 2019 to get a jump on his college career.
He discussed with Evans the likelihood of him reclassifying and also broke down what he liked about a handful of the schools pursuing him, a list that includes KU, Memphis, Oregon, Tennessee, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and UCLA.
“I am not thinking about it right now,” he told Evans of reclassifying. “It is up in the air. I just worry about my class and what I am doing. If I were to do it, it would be after the summer and after everything (with AAU basketball) is over. I am just worried about being the best player on and off of the court.”
As for his current take on the KU coaching staff, Walker made it clear that his size was what stood out to several coaches.
“Bill Self said that he needs a point guard that can do a lot of things,” Walker told Evans last week. “... There are not a lot of guards that have my size.”
According to Evans, Walker’s size makes the possibilities almost endless for whatever program winds up landing him, be it in the coming months or next year.
Wrote Evans in breaking down the Hillcrest PG: “Walker has dimensions of physicality and toughness to his game (and) possesses a skill set that would work well in the college game. Regardless of the year that he enrolls in college, the program that lands him will have a ready-made, go-to scorer in the backcourt who can consistently produce each time he hits the floor.”
Said Walker of his reputation as a big time scorer: “Everybody thinks that I can just score, but I am more than that. I am a team player and when we need a bucket, I can get us one. But when someone else needs to get a bucket, I can do that, too. I have been in the gym, just working on my jumper, trying to improve. I don’t play for anybody but myself. A lot of coaches really like that.”
It was a big weekend for Kansas basketball recruiting, both in the 2019 class that still has plenty of holes to fill, and beyond.
The KU coaching staff welcomed Class of 2019 forward Tristan Enaruna to town for an official visit over the weekend and also was busy tracking some of the top players in future classes all over the country.
Here’s a quick recap of one of the biggest stories that came up this on a vibrant recruiting trail.
Class of 2020 guard R.J. Hampton, in a starring role at the Nike EYBL event in Atlanta, Hampton delivered a monster night in one of the showcase games, going for 41 points and 6 assists in a loss by AAU squad Drive Nation.
While the loud performance on the floor certainly was noticed, it was comments made by Hampton and his father off the court that likely stood out more.
With the 6-foot-5 guard from Little Elm, Texas, still trying to decide whether to reclassify into the 2019 class of stay in the 2020 class (where he is ranked No. 5 overall by Rivals.com), Hampton offered a hint at where he might be headed.
“I don’t think I have anything left in high school to prove to anybody,” Hampton said, according to ESPN.com’s Jeff Borzello.
Shortly after that, Hampton’s father, Rod Hampton, met with a small group of media members in attendance and, according to Borzello, said there was “a better than 50 percent chance” that his son reclassifies and is playing college basketball somewhere this winter.
Hampton, who has a final four of Kansas, Memphis, Duke and Kentucky, reminded people over the weekend that KU held a special place in his heart.
“Coach Self has been on me real hard,” said Hampton, according to CatsIllustrated.com. “He was my first blue blood type of offer. With him, (it’s), ‘You can come in and get us back to the Final Four.’ With the guys they might have coming back, they don’t have any commitments from any top guys yet. They could be scary.”
One other notable Hampton soundbite from the weekend came from his father, who talked about his tight relationship with the KU coaching staff.
"Coach Jerrance Howard is like family to me," Rod Hampton said, according to JayhawkSlant.com. "I mean, we can talk about anything and be comfortable. It doesn't matter if I call him at 3 in the afternoon or 3 at night, he's going to pick up and vice versa. He's just like family.
"I would feel very, very comfortable dropping R.J. off at Kansas right now with Jerrance Howard and the coaching staff at Kansas. I would have no problem at all and would feel very comfortable with R.J. playing at Kansas with Jerrance and the staff. We are definitely comfortable with the coaching staff."
Reclassification is the in thing in college recruiting these days and the Kansas Jayhawks may benefit because of it.
In addition to waiting on a decision from Top 5 Class of 2020 prospect R.J. Hampton, two other hot names have surfaced lately in KU’s recruiting efforts.
One of them, like Hampton may, is reclassifying from the 2020 class into 2019, making him eligible to play college basketball later this year. And the other is considering it.
Here’s a look.
The first player is Johnny Juzang, a 6-foot-7, 200-pound, Top 25 prospect who is drawing interest from some of the top programs in the country, including Kansas.
Earlier this week, he announced his decision to enroll at the college of his choosing early and said he would pick a school “in the next few weeks.”
The North Hollywood (Calif.) prospect currently has offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Cal, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Marquette, Miami, Oregon, San Diego State, UNLV, USC, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
And he has a few visits on the books, as well, including Kentucky next week. According to Rivals.com’s Corey Evans, he already took an official visit to Virginia last year and landing Juzang figures to be an all-out battle for all of the programs involved, including UCLA and new head coach Mick Cronin, who have the hometown advantage.
No other scheduled official visits have been announced at this time.
Juzang played AAU ball with the Compton Magic and averaged 23 points 8.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game for Harvard Westlake during his junior season.
Another relatively new name to watch on the recruiting trail is that of Kyree Walker, a Top 20 shooting guard in the 2020 class who also is exploring the idea of reclassifying to become eligible to play college ball during the 2019-20 season.
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound 5-star prospect hails from Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix currently holds offers from Cal, Memphis, Arizona State, UCLA, LSU, Oklahoma, Illinois, Texas, Nevada, Arkansas and Kansas, with KU and Arkansas both receiving the most buzz from recruiting analysts of late.
Walker initially committed to Arizona State early in the process but has since de-committed and opened up his recruitment to both a number of schools and the possibility of enrolling in school a year early.
In an interview with VandySports.com, Rivals recruiting guru Eric Bossi called Walker “a physical scorer who can play above the rim” and “a tenacious competitor on the defensive side of the ball.”
“What stands out the most, though, is a big time first step,” Bossi told the site. “It’s the key to his entire game. Knowing that he can blow by just about anybody gives him confidence and then the strength to finish through contact and his ability to shift things on the fly make him a tough customer as a scorer.”
Obviously there’s still a long way to go for any program to land any of these players, Hampton included. But what has become crystal clear in this whole process is the fact that, like the grad transfer route of late, the reclassification option has become a serious part of teams’ recruiting plans and opened up other worlds entirely.
A Kansas class that two weeks ago looked to be a little thin and in need of some good news from Matt Hurt and/or Cassius Stanley, missed out on both of those Duke-bound prospects and yet still appears to be just fine given that the Jayhawks are very much in the running for all three players mentioned above, as well as others in the Class of 2019 and on the grad transfer path.
They may not get them. This trio may not end up reclassifying. But they do give Kansas and the other programs vying for their services options. And, in the recruiting game, that’s all you can ask for.
Things are starting to clear up a little regarding the future of Class of 2020 guard R.J. Hampton.
According to Rivals.com recruiting analyst Corey Evans things are currently “looking good” for a possible Hampton-to-Kansas-in-2019 scenario.
The 6-foot-5 guard who is ranked No. 5 overall by Rivals.com in the Class of 2020 has been considering reclassifying into the 2019 class for quite some time. And it now looks like that process is moving closer toward being a reality.
If it is, Evans believes the move could benefit Kansas big time.
“Hampton does have to gain the proper credits this summer to become eligible to enroll this fall,” Evans wrote this week. “But if everything aligns properly, the elite talent will be Lawrence-bound.”
Adding a player of Hampton’s ability and talent would be a huge lift for a Kansas recruiting class that currently has just two signees with an average ranking of No. 99 and lots of room to grow.
But there’s more to the Little Elm, Texas, prospect than his lofty ranking and big name. I found that out by chance earlier this year, when walking up to the KU-TCU game in Fort Worth, Texas, where I ran into a high school coach from the area who had long been a follower and fan of Kansas basketball and spent some time around Hampton.
Naturally, I asked him what he thought.
I didn’t write down the exact quotes or record the impromptu interview. The game that night, you might recall, tipped off at 8 p.m. on Big Monday and I was more interested in finding a way to prepare to hit a tight deadline than dive into a story about one of the best players in the 2020 class.
Had I known then that we were potentially this close to Hampton reclassifying and making a decision about his future, I might have chosen otherwise or jotted a few things down.
The main thing I remember about the short conversation was how the coach, who was an assistant in the league Hampton’s Little Elm team played in, gushed about Hampton’s character.
Great kid. Great family. Personable guy. Everyone loves him. Those descriptions, and more, came pouring out of the coach’s mouth, as if he himself were a member of Hampton’s family. He wasn’t.
Quickly, the conversation turned to basketball, too. And, as luck would have it, Hampton was coming off of a monster week during which he scored 84 points in two games, including a 50-point effort that featured 10 3-pointers and 10 rebounds.
So, yeah. Talking about his game was inevitable. The thing that stood out there was the coach’s perspective on Hampton’s size, smooth skills and ability to make the game easier for his teammates and also how it looked so easy for him, too.
At 6-foot-5, 180 pounds with serious hops, the coach said there was not a player in the prep ranks who Hampton could not elevate over for an uncontested jumper.
Add to that his athleticism, length and desire and the coach, somewhat predictably, classified Hampton as a special player.
The final thing I recall from the conversation that spanned a few hundred feet was how well the assistant coach thought Hampton and Kansas coach Bill Self would mesh.
The coach had worked a handful of Self’s camps over the years and followed Self’s career for the past couple of decades. In his opinion, Self was exactly the style of coach that could get the most out of Hampton during his college days.
Time will tell if that ever becomes an option. But it’s closer today than it was back in February.
Hampton is down to a final four of Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Memphis and could make a decision, both about reclassifying and his college of choice, by the end of May if not sooner.
In addition to highlighting KU’s chances of landing him, Evans also recently categorized Duke’s odds as “nearly non-existent,” Kentucky’s as “on the outside looking in” and Memphis as being in “a great spot.”
The difference between Memphis and KU, according to Evans, is Self.