Duke Basketball: 2020 CG R.J. Hampton continues giving mixed signals

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The 2019-20 Duke basketball roster could still use another stud guard if current freshman Tre Jones is in the NBA; based on some interpretations of recent mixed messages, a 2020 five-star remains a possibility to fill that potential void.

Do tweets speak louder than words? If so, Duke basketball target R.J. Hampton, despite his statements to the contrary, may eventually announce that he will reclassify from 2020 to 2019.

One doesn’t need a doctorate in Farewell Messages to recognize that the 18-year-old’s recent tweet looks like a farewell message to his high school basketball team.

Take a look:

The five-star 2020 combo guard — he ranks No. 5 on the 247Sports Composite for his class, and the Crystal Ball favors Duke to win his recruiting battle — tweeted the above picture and message after he and his Little Elm High School (Texas) concluded the season with a loss in the second round of the state tournament.

Maybe the 6-foot-4, 170-pound Hampton just meant the season has “been a fun ride.” Maybe he just meant his jersey number, 14, is “Out” until next season.

But just about every tweeter who has responded to or quoted his tweet seems to be in agreement: It probably means he is planning on reclassifying. And he probably just enjoys stirring up responses to his cleverly ambiguous phrasing.

According to his father, Rob, in an interview with the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Drew Hill a month ago, Hampton is taking the necessary classes to reclassify to 2019 should he decide to go that route. However, during that same interview, the elder Hampton reiterated what the Hampton camp said in the fall, that R.J. plans to still be a high schooler next year.

And earlier this month, StockRisers’ Leader Johnson reported via a tweet that Rob told him R.J. will not reclassify. Yet in that same tweet, Johnson still felt the need to report the general projections for Hampton in both the 2021 and 2020 NBA drafts (note: the only way he becomes eligible for the 2020 draft is if he reclassifies).

Speaking of playing professionally, that seems to play a major role in Hampton’s decisions — as it does with most any five-star. Evidence of that for Hampton, though, came two days ago in the form of him retweeting the meme below in response to the update on the NBA’s push to lower the age limit to enter the draft from 19 to 18:

Now, it should be noted that the lowered age limit won’t likely go into effect until 2022, meaning this latest news won’t actually affect Hampton, who already meets the age requirement for the upcoming draft but is only lacking the one-year-out-of-high-school requirement.

But considering Hampton apparently has his eyes on getting to the NBA as soon as possible and is only lacking the second requirement mentioned above to be eligible to do so, one would assume he would avoid staying in high school another year, as that would only postpone his professional career.

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In other words, in order to get to the NBA as quickly as possible, Hampton needs to get out of high school as soon as possible.

To summarize: Hampton and his dad have said he’s not planning to reclassify. But the junior turned 18 on Feb. 7. He announced his final five schools — Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Memphis, and TCU — on the same day. He is taking the necessary classes to reclassify. He has retweeted a meme about bolting to the NBA as soon as possible — in order to that, he must reclassify. He tweeted to his high school supporters, “It’s been a fun ride” and that he’s “Out” and included a photo of his back to the camera.

Whether Hampton reclassifies or not, if he chooses to play for Duke, the Blue Devils will benefit from the services of a backcourt warlock who would potentially put the program in the national championship conversation due solely to his presence. His handles are elite — same goes for his shooting stroke, athleticism, and competitive fire (he resembles, based on his skills and borderline-cocky demeanor, a mix between former Dukies Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers).

Thus far, Duke’s 2019 recruiting class ranks No. 6 in the country, per 247Sports, and includes three commits: five-star center Vernon Carey Jr. (ranks No. 3), five-star small forward Wendell Moore (ranks No. 22), and four-star combo guard Boogie Ellis (ranks No. 34). The coaching staff also remains in the race for the only remaining 2019 recruit holding a Duke offer: five-star power forward Matthew Hurt (ranks No. 8), who is not likely to announce his college choice until April.

ALSO READ: Where Duke stands with 2019 PF Matthew Hurt

As for the 2020 recruiting class, the Blue Devils have yet to receive a commitment but have extended an offer to Hampton and five other five-stars: small forward Jalen Johnson (ranks No. 3), small forward Scottie Barnes (ranks No. 4), shooting guard B.J. Boston (ranks No. 9), center Walker Kessler (ranks No. 16), and point guard Jeremy Roach (ranks No. 17).

ALSO READ: 10 names to know as Duke eyes historic 2020 class

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