Duke Basketball: R.J. Hampton still has eyes on Tre Jones’ decision

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If Tre Jones opts to be in the NBA next season, then the likelihood increases that one particular 2020 recruit reclassifies and serves as a worthy replacement at point guard for the Duke basketball program.

Visions of where Duke basketball freshman Tre Jones will be in the fall remain murky. But what remains clear is that R.J. Hampton is watching for an announcement — the deadline to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft is April 21 — from the projected mid-to-late first-rounder.

Hampton, a 6-foot-4, 170-pound combo guard from Little Elm, Texas, is only a high school junior but has long hinted at reclassifying. And according to a tweet from FloHoops’ Adam Zagoria on Saturday, Hampton’s dad said the family has still not at all ruled out the possibility of the already 18-year-old joining the 2019 class.

Also, the elder Hampton apparently told Zagoria that the list of potential destinations is down to four — Duke, Kentucky, Memphis, and Kansas — but will soon be down to three; furthermore, he admitted Jones’ pending decision is a factor.

Here’s one translation: If Hampton is to begin his college career next season — likely to be one season before his own NBA career begins — he intends to be the primary ballhandler, from the start, for a blue-blood program.

His game certainly makes him worthy of such a title.

Although the 247Sports Composite ranks Hampton only No. 5 amongst his 2020 peers, USA Today named him this week as the only junior on its ALL-USA Boys Basketball First-Team — suggesting some see him as one of the top five ballers in high school, regardless of class.

Watching Hampton on the court instantly elicits a slew of adjectives concerning his playing style and personality: smooth, bouncy, audacious, whimsical, and ultra-confident (some prefer descriptors such as “cocky” and “arrogant”) to name a few.

If Jones leaves, then “overjoyed” and “relieved” would be accurate descriptors of most Duke basketball fans’ emotions should Hampton’s name appear on the Blue Devils’ 2019-20 roster. As it appears right now, assuming all four freshmen starters from last season leave for the NBA and junior big man Marques Bolden does not either test the NBA waters or dive into the graduate-transfer pool, the roster would be the first at Duke since Ronald Reagan was in office to only include three McDonald’s All-Americans (only two if Bolden bounced).

Fortunately for those fans, the 247Sports Crystal Ball shows a future of Hampton in Durham (62 percent of the experts agree).

While Duke is the lone school in his final four that has not yet hosted the phenom for an official visit, Hampton has said in the past that he hopes to take one sometime in June. This implies that even if he reclassifies, he won’t likely announce his destination until the summer.

In summary, the team that introduces itself to fans at Countdown to Craziness in October has a strong chance to consist of either Jones or Hampton — but probably no chance of both.

The Blue Devils’ 2019 class to date 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).

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Matthew Hurt, a five-star power forward who ranks No. 8, is the lone 2019 recruit holding an outstanding offer from the Duke staff and plans to announce his college choice on April 19.

Fellow five-star power forward Trendon Watford, who ranks No. 27 and recently included the Blue Devils in his final five, has not yet received an offer from the staff but plans to when he visits the Durham campus — which he has said he is working on and should happen before his planned announcement date on April 20.

ALSO READ: Trendon Watford puts the ball in Coach K’s court

Currently, Duke’s 2019 class ranks No. 9 nationally, per 247Sports, but the addition of some combination of Hurt, Hampton, and Watford would likely bump it to No. 1 (that would mark the fourth consecutive, and fifth of the past six, top-of-the-leaderboard recruiting haul for the Blue Devils).

ALSO READ: Blue Devils need nation’s top recruiting class once again

Next. 10 names to know as Duke eyes historic 2020 class. dark

Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more Duke basketball recruiting updates, analysis, opinions, and predictions.