Three-Point Play: R.J. Hampton, June, NBA Draft deadline passes
Might R.J. Hampton be a trendsetter? In today's Three-Point-Play, national basketball analyst Corey Evans looks at what Hampton’s decision to skip college might ultimately mean, examines June's new place on the basketball calendar and discusses the NBA Draft deadline.
1. R.J. HAMPTON, THE PIONEER
The news that R.J. Hampton signed with the New Zealand Breakers of the NBL instead of a college program caused surprise, intrigue and commotion throughout basketball. This is not a Brian Bowen or a Terrance Ferguson situation where Hampton’s eligibility was in question. This is simply a case of Hampton choosing professional basketball over potential March glory.
In the days that have followed Hampton's announcement, elite prospects and their parents have begun to ask what his move means and whether this will be a legitimate path for others in the future.
Do I believe that Hampton will be the last to choose professional opportunities, whether overseas or in the G League, over college basketball? I do not. There are select members of the 2020 class that will be keeping a close eye on how Hampton fares and whether or not his draft stock fluctuates before he returns to America at the end of his NBL contract in March,.
What did help Hampton in making such a move, though, was having a father who was forward thinking and meticulous in checking every box. Hampton’s own innate confidence to go for it, helped as well.
Hampton's days as a trailblazer may be numbered, as the one-and-done rule could potentially be erased by 2022. For now, though, he could be a pioneer for future classes.
2. THE NEW JUNE
Thanks to the work of the Rice Commission, there will be a handful of evaluation opportunities this June for college coaches to check out some of the nation's top talent.
For the first time, the NBPA Top 100 Camp will be open to college coaches. A 24-hour window will be allotted between June 13-14. The prestigious camp, once again being held at the University of Virginia, will host a number of top prospects from the 2020-22 classes.
The following week in Colorado Springs, Colo., the under-19 USA Basketball trials will be held at the United States Olympic Training Facility. Current college stars such as Tyrese Haliburton and Kira Lewis will be on hand, as will top members of the 2019 class including Isaiah Stewart and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, and high school prospects Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley will be in attendance.
Lastly, and most importantly, the men’s basketball scholastic events will be run across the country from June 21-23 and June 28-30. Many states, including California, Florida and Georgia, decided against such events as they did not believe they had the sufficient backing or time to run a worthwhile tournament. For those states that will be holding events, this will really be the first time in June that low- and mid-major coaches will actually be able to evaluate legitimate prospects for their programs.
Fair or not, this is the new normal, which makes what used to be a dead month an especially important one.
3. DRAFT DEADLINE PASSES, BRINGING ANSWERS FOR NEXT SEASON
More college prospects decided to keep their names in the NBA Draft rather than return to school. Thanks to the passing of the NBA Draft deadline, we have a much better idea of what the upcoming season might look like. Here are three specific prospects whose return could mean a great deal next March.
Killian Tillie: Gonzaga is not going anywhere. While the Bulldogs will enroll an elite recruiting class which includes a number of high-level frontcourt prospects, the return of a healthy Tillie could equate to another potential Final Four run. Questions remain in the backcourt, but if the Zags can pick up one more guard transfer and receive quality production from Admon Gilder, Mark Few’s bunch should be primed for another run.
Kaleb Wesson: The Buckeyes return of much of their underclassmen talent and will enroll three top-50 prospects, and now Wesson has pulled his name out of the NBA Draft. With his return, Ohio State immediately become a top-15 caliber team next season. If everyone fits into their specific roles, the Buckeyes could be an inexperienced but sneaky Final Four dark horse.
Steven Enoch: The ACC is down as a whole, but Louisville is trending up and the return of Enoch makes the Cardinals that much more of a legitimate league contender. Enoch's presence means Louisville does not have to rush the development of Aidan Igiehon, which might pay off in a major way for Chris Mack’s program.