Editor's note: As the Warriors prepare for the 2020 NBA draft, during which they will have a lottery pick for the first time since 2012, NBC Sports Bay Area will present a twice-weekly series spotlighting two players expected to be evaluated. This is the eighth of a 12-part series over the next six weeks.
R.J. Hampton followed a recent trend skip college and head overseas to prep for a budding NBA career. Now, as the 2020 NBA Draft approaches, Hampton will look to show his growth as a player.
Following a decorated high school career in the Dallas area, Hampton decided to opt-out of his commitment to Kansas in order to play for the New Zealand Breakers of Australia's National Basketball League. Prior to the decision, he was an All-American, averaging 32 points, 9.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 3.9 steals per game for Little Elm High School. Following his junior season, he reclassified to the 2019 class and subsequently opted to play professionally overseas in order to better acclimate to the pro game.
With the Breakers, he averaged 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 15 games. Against fellow NBA prospect LaMelo Ball, he finished with 12 points, two assists and four rebounds, helping the Breakers beat the Illawarra Hawks. However, his season was cut short following a foot injury, forcing him to come back to the United States to prep for the draft.
At 6-foot-5, Hampton has the body-type to be an effective guard in the league. His ballhandling is among the top in his class and he's effective in the pick and roll.
However, the 19-year old must improve his shot selection to compete at the next level. Against the inferior competition, he shot just 40 percent from the field, including just 25 percent from 3-point range.
Like much of the draft pool, Hampton is a project that will need time to develop. In recent years, the Warriors haven't found a way to bring the best out of their young players, including Jordan Bell, Damian Jones and, to some extent, Patrick McCaw. However, the team broke the trend last season, helping Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall show signs of potential. While it's unlikely Golden State will draft Hampton with the No. 1 overall pick, they could have the infrastructure for him to be successful.
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R.J. Hampton profile
Position: Point guard
Birthdate: February 7, 2001 (19 years old)
Hometown: Little Elm, TX
2019-20 season averages: 8.8 points (40 percent FG, 25 percent 3-point, 72.3 percent FT), 3.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.07 steals.
What they’re saying: "I've got Hampton top-eight. Kid is a downhill player with the craft to create and slide his way to the basket. Huge upside, also a great person to be around." - NBA scout (via Bleacher Report)