Duke Basketball: R.J. Hampton could reclassify if Tre Jones bolts for NBA

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The door does not appear to be shut on the possibility of 2020 recruit R.J. Hampton reclassifying and becoming the starting point guard for next season’s Duke basketball team.

As it turns out, Tre Jones’ shoulder injury six minutes into the Syracuse game wasn’t as major as Duke basketball fans originally dreaded. Of course, this means that the likelihood of the freshman point guard resisting the NBA’s charm after this season is once again as slim as fans have been dreading.

Ever since Jones began showing the nation how well he orchestrates the Blue Devils’ offense and defense, his standing in mock drafts has been on a steady climb — most now peg him as a mid-to-late first-rounder.

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Assuming Jones bolts, as the roster outlook currently stands, the best option to be the Blue Devils’ head maestro next season appears to be 2019 commit Boogie Ellis, a combo guard who ranks No. 36 on the 247Sports Composite.

While there is little doubt that coach Mike Krzyzewski could make that situation work, his job would likely be significantly simpler if a 2020 phenom named R.J. Hampton decided to reclassify and join the Blue Devils in the fall.

Yes, Hampton did say in September that he was staying put in his current class. That being said, many speculate that he only said that in order to shush his buddy James Wiseman — the nation’s No. 1 player, who committed to Memphis, was bugging him at the time about teaming up as Tigers for the 2019-20 season.

It’s possible Hampton, who ranks No. 5 on the composite for his class, still intends to reclassify but only has eyes for Duke. After all, the 6-foot-4, 170-pound native of Little Elm, Texas, is only two weeks away from his 18th birthday, meaning if he stayed in high school another season, he would already be 19 by the time he graduates and 20 by the time he finished his freshman year in college.

Plus, his dad, Rob, recently said — as reported by Drew Hill of the Memphis Commercial Appeal — that R.J. is still taking the necessary classes to make it possible for him to reclassify should he decide on that route.

Is it possible the Hamptons are just waiting to see what happens with Jones?


The 247Sports Crystal Ball heavily favors Duke for the services of Hampton (62 percent of the experts agree). And the guard — some sites list him as a combo guard while others see him as a true point — has a personality that borders on cocky, which garners him a slew of haters on social media. He hears o-ver-rat-ed chants almost anywhere he plays.

Yep, sounds like a surefire future Dukie.

If Coach K does land Hampton for next season, the Blue Devils will have a supreme playmaker in the backcourt. As for former Duke basketball guards to compare him to, there really aren’t any — maybe a little Kyrie Irving, due to his insane handles, and a little Jason Williams, due to his scoring prowess from all areas.

Expect Hampton to stay mum about potentially reclassifying until after the end of the college basketball season — in other words, after Jones announces his decision to either stay or leave.

Duke’s 2019 class already includes Ellis, five-star center Vernon Carey Jr. (ranks No. 2), and five-star small forward Wendell Moore (ranks No. 24). The addition of Hampton would likely be enough to give the program the nation’s top recruiting class for the fourth year straight (would be five out of the past six).

Same goes for the addition of five-star center Isaiah Stewart (ranks No. 6), who is set to announce his college choice on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. ET (on ESPN). While Washington seems to be the favorite for Stewart, Duke still has a decent chance to land him.

ALSO READ: Five-star 2019 C Isaiah Stewart sets announcement date

Finally, five-star power forward Matthew Hurt (ranks No.7) also likely has the power to bump Duke’s class into the top spot. He is on his official visit to Durham this weekend but won’t likely announce his college choice until at least April.

ALSO READ: What Duke must do to land five-star 2019 PF Matthew Hurt

The Blue Devils’ 2019 class currently ranks No. 6 in the country, according to 247Sports. While all three of the guys listed above would be stellar additions, the type of services that Hampton offers seems to be exactly what the 2019-20 roster in Durham is lacking — assuming Jones’ departure, of course.

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