Rivals Roundtable: RJ Hampton, 2020 talk and what's next for Boogie Ellis
The Rivals Roundtable is back this week and national analyst Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald have lots to discuss. How does R.J. Hampton fit into 2019? Who should be targeting Boogie Ellis and some 2020 discussion.
1. Where do you see R.J. Hampton fitting into next week's 2019 rankings release now that he reclassified?
Bossi: I’ve said in the past that Hampton may be the best point guard in high school basketball, regardless of class. So, he’s going to have to rank pretty highly and I would say it’s fair to pencil him somewhere into the top five or six of the 2019 class. The only thing that is tricky is that when you are evaluating a guy for one class, much of what you think about his future is dependent upon when he’ll be enrolling. I don’t think another year of high school basketball does much to develop Hampton, but it would help a lot for maturity and getting ready. Regardless, though, he’s an elite prospect and should be an instant impact guy at either Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis or Texas Tech.
Evans: From a talent perspective alone, Hampton is as good as anyone in the 2019 class. His athleticism, size on the perimeter and takeover prowess whenever the game calls for it is elite and so is his upside.
However, there are a few others in the 2019 class that have built up quite the profile in recent years and have a great body of work compared to what Hampton was able to accomplish. He is arguably a top-five prospect in the 2019 class and has a worthwhile chance at finishing within such an acclaimed group of individuals; he might not sit first overall but his upside is as good as anyone’s in his new class.
McDonald: It's always hard to rank the top prospects when you are choosing between guards and post players. With Hampton, if we're just talking where he stacks up with the top guards in the class, I'd slot him in right behind Anthony Edwards and Cole Anthony. He was terrific the game I saw in Atlanta. He has great size, not an overwhelming athlete but has great pace, and he can both score and distribute. He's obviously an immediate impact guy wherever he ends up.
2. If you were a college coach and were targeting one player in the 2020 class, who would it be?
Bossi: I said it during the winter and I’m doubling down on it now. If I’m a college coach and I’m recruiting strictly for my college team and winning games, give me Cade Cunningham over anybody else. With Hampton’s move to 2019, Cunningham just jumped to No. 5 overall in 2020 and he’s earned it. We currently have him listed as a small forward but I’m saying we’ll switch him to point guard. He controls the game, has tremendous size and is all about making the right play.
Evans: This might sound a bit crazy but I would take four-star Andre Curbelo. We have seen just how important it is to have an efficient lead guard that can create for others, have a consistent approach and can defend their ground in the backcourt. Curbelo personifies each trait perfectly and his value is even more important because he is not a one-and-done type, nor is he even a two-and-done sort of prospect, but rather will have a multiple-year stay in college but produce from the get-go. He raises the ceiling for his team and betters his teammates each time out which is why his recruitment is expanding by the day.
Miami just offered and the new staff at St. John’s will be doing all that they can to attain his commitment. Florida, Pitt, and South Carolina are just a few others that continue to track the NY Jayhawks product heavily, though a commitment remains out of sight.
McDonald: If you asked me this question a year ago, I'd probably try to find somebody ranked a little lower that I thought would stick around for a few years in college. With how transient everything is now in college hoops, I'll just take the guy who makes the biggest impact right away and we'll figure out his replacement after he leaves in a year. For me, that guy is Cunningham. I think he's the best play-maker in the class. He's an easy guy to build around.
All the Texas schools were watching him this weekend as well as Kansas, Kentucky and Virginia.
3. Of the 2020 players you saw last weekend, who deserves the biggest rankings bump?
Bossi: I was home in Kansas City for the Under Armour Association and the 2020 prospect who stood out to me was Memphis shooting guard Matthew Murrell. Currently ranked No. 110 nationally, Murrell is deserving of at least a 40-50 spot bump in the next rankings. He’s among the top perimeter athletes in his class, plays hard and is becoming more diverse offensively.
Auburn’s Bruce Pearl watched, Missouri’s Cuonzo Martin watched, Tennessee’s Rick Barnes watched, Kentucky’s John Calipari watched, Vanderbilt’s Jerry Stackhouse watched, Memphis chased him with an assistant as did many other programs. Looking at his recruitment logically, though, I’ll go ahead and call Memphis the team to beat given the way Penny Hardaway has been cleaning up locally.
Evans: Easy. Josh Hall. The 6-foot-8 forward has not stopped growing and it has been nice to see him add some strength onto his frame as he has become better at scoring against contact and playing through physicality. The toughness and abilities have always been there but by adding confidence to his repertoire along with an improving all-around skillset, Hall is now the positionless type of forward that the game has come to love. He can make shots, score at the basket and defend different positions in the half-court.
Florida and Kansas offered prior to the live period while Texas just got on board earlier this week. NC State might have a solid chance due to their proximity to him and early time spent in recruiting Hall. The Team Loaded stud is in position to make a huge climb when we next update our Rivals150 for the class of 2020.
McDonald: We currently have Earl Timberlake at No. 39. It's not a significant jump in how many spots he could go up, but it's always tougher to move up closer to the top. From what I saw, he looked like a five-star prospect this weekend. He's big, strong, athletic and really versatile.
4. Who should be coming after Boogie Ellis after his decommitment from Duke?
Bossi: I have been more impressed with Ellis as a senior than at any other time. To me, he’s a legit top 35-type prospect in the senior class. He can play point but is a natural scorer who shoots with range, so I like the idea of him playing off the ball a bit. But, playing the point in college is very important to him so anybody looking to get involved needs to know that. Memphis jumps out as a potential early favorite. I can see USC, Oregon and others making runs and think just about anybody in need of a guard who can score should be reaching out.
Evans: Immediately upon the asking for his release, my phone went off like wildfire from college coaches from almost every big conference looking for information. It goes to show how much value Ellis brings to the floor and that there aren’t many of his caliber left only intensifies things.
Ellis, if he finds the right system and opportunity, should be good for close to 12 points per game as a freshman. If he could be played alongside a few rangy athletes and a playmaking, pass-first point guard, his numbers and potential soar through the roof.
Pure speculation but I would not be surprised if UCLA goes all out for Ellis who would replace Jaylen Hands in the backcourt, but also watch out for Memphis as they were involved heavily prior to his Duke commitment and have an open spot still available in their backcourt.
McDonald: Every school that could use a guard should be trying to get involved with Ellis. He's one of the best scorers in the class and can play PG too. The one school I have seen that I think makes a ton of sense given their roster turnover is Virginia. Losing Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome gives him a wide-open opportunity to start right away and be a key piece for Tony Bennett. Guards tend to flourish under Bennett. He could be a 15-point per game player next year in the right situation.