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R.J. Hampton: Nets stars could impart ‘wisdom every single day’

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NBL Rd 9 - New Zealand v Illawarra Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

Looking for any more indications that R.J. Hampton, the 6’6” wing, is on the Nets radar? As the New York Post has reported, the Nets are “extremely interested” in him if he falls to No. 19 (not a certainty) and Brooklyn retains the pick (also not a certainty.) And in our new survey of 14 mock drafts, he’s the prospect most linked to Brooklyn, with three mentions.

More significantly, the Nets have worked out Hampton, not an insignificant marker considering teams can only work out 10 players under COVID restrictions. Now, Brian Lewis discloses that the workout, which took place in Memphis, included Sean Marks.

“Marks made the trip personally to watch the 19-year-old,” Lewis reports, adding Marks has another connection with the 19-year-old Texan who played last season in Marks’ native land, New Zealand. “Granted, with Marks being from Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, there was already added familiarity with Hampton. The 6-foot-5 wing (who aspires to play the point) opted to forego college and spent last season playing with the New Zealand Breakers.”

Hampton spoke of his interest in the Nets during a Zoom call with the media Wednesday. Brooklyn, of course, is now a place prospects want to play. The Nets, he said, are one of eight teams who’ve worked him out.

“The thing I like about that fit is I can play off those guys,” Hampton said via Zoom. “Those guys are superstars in this league, Kevin Durant and Kyrie. You have Caris LeVert, an up-and-coming star, with a Hall of Fame coach, Steve Nash.

“So those guys would give me the wisdom every single day, just coming in ready to work. That’s a very good team, a great organization to play for, so I think that fit would be good.”

No doubt, Hampton would be a project. A five-star recruit at Little Elm High School outside Dallas, Hampton didn’t exactly wow NBL fans in Auckland. He averaged 8.8 points and 3.9 boards, shooting only 40 percent overall. That said, he tested his maturity by choosing to play in another country against grown men.

“I’d definitely do it again. I grew as a player more than I would’ve grown in college, and my immediate impact will be a lot faster than some other guys. … If you’re willing to lose some of the hype but get more of the work, it’s definitely a route,” said Hampton.

Asked if he thought he was lottery talent, he said he believes he is.

“I’d think so. Coming out of high school, top-five player in my class, I feel like I went to a situation where I didn’t get to score a lot of points, and do the oohs and aahs that some other players got, but I learned a lot from my time over there, and I definitely think that’s going to further me immediately in the NBA.”

No player has been linked with the Nets more in mock drafts over the last couple of months than Hampton, who’s been compared to the Bulls’ Zach Lavine. But in recent mock drafts, he can be found as high as No. 14 and as low as No. 23, so indeed he may be there. In our survey of 14 mocks, Hampton is the prospect most linked to the Nets. Specifically, SB Nation, NBADraft.net and 24/7 Sports have him going to the Nets.

While in Memphis, Hampton has been working out with two top-notch former NBA players, Penny Hardaway and Mike Miller who recently won certification as an NBA agent and will rep Hampton.

“Mike, just shooting, being in rhythm, being a great shooter, that’s something I wanted to focus on when I came back. And Penny, learning how to be a pure point guard, how to make the right reads,” Hampton said. “Those two things have been very big for me the last six, seven months.”