With Boogie Ellis getting his release from Duke on Thursday, there are now two top 40 guards on the market in the class of 2019.
The 6-foot-2 Ellis is ranked No. 36 by ESPN.com in the class, while R.J. Hampton, who recently reclassified to 2019 from 2020, is the No. 4 overall prospect in the class.
Memphis is involved for both players and Rod Hampton, R.J.'s father, said Thursday he could see the two playing together.
"Without a doubt, without a doubt," Rod Hampton said by phone. "Boogie's a natural scorer and he's scorer in a point guard body. But I think he handles the ball well enough that they could complement each other. But Boogie can actually get a bucket."
Memphis assistant Mike Miller has a strong relationship with Ellis and is expected to be strongly involved for him. As of late Thursday afternoon, Memphis was one of many schools to reach out for Ellis, including Washington, Georgetown, Virginia, Arizona, Oregon, Gonzaga, Kansas, UCLA, and Vanderbilt.
"We are sorting everything out," Loren Leath of the Oakland Soldiers said of Ellis.
With Cassius Stanley joining Duke next year and with Tre Jones coming back, the backcourt may just have been too crowded for Ellis.
The same goes for the 6-foot-5 Hampton, who this week cut Duke from his list.
"We took Duke out of the list and we going to live with that one," Rod Hampton said. "To be honest, they weren't really recruiting R.J. hard."
Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said he has four scholarships left and is looking to add some major pieces. Memphis is involved for Hampton, No. 16-ranked Precious Achiuwa, No. 18-ranked Trendon Watford, and No. 79 Lester Quinones. Memphis' class already features James Wiseman, the No. 1 prospect in the class and the projected No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, and No. 24-ranked D.J. Jeffries.
“We really want to finish this class off with our last four scholarships being studs, and hopefully we can do that,” Hardaway said Saturday for this story on Forbes Sports Money. “And then the expectations go way high because you give yourself an opportunity to be mentioned in the breath of one of the teams that’s up and coming and in the right direction.”
If Memphis were to land some combination of Hampton, Achiuwa, Watford, and Quinones along with Wiseman, the Tigers could have multiple lottery picks in 2020.
“I think that we want the pressure,” Hardaway said. “Being in the position that all of us, me, Mike [Miller], and Sam [Mitchell], we had pressure to get to where we got to, to get to the league. So the pressure of having really good players and then putting that on us, and say, ‘Hey, you need to get here, we understand what that means and we want that.’ That means that you have a great team and you have the opportunity to win a national championship when they start putting that type of pressure on you."
Meantime, Hampton is also considering Kentucky, Kansas, and Texas Tech. Kentucky has three point guards in or back next year with Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey, and Immanuel Quickley, so it would seem like a crowded backcourt.
Kansas is awaiting word from Devon Dotson, who is testing the NBA Draft waters.
Hampton has also added Texas Tech to the list.
"It's just their style of play," Rod Hampton said. "And Coach [Chris] Beard is a really good coach, which all the other ones are. But it's something about him that I like, and that doesn't mean R.J. likes it. I can see R.J. playing for a coach because the way I coach R.J. is the way that Coach Beard coaches, so I could actually see R.J. playing for him. But have to look at roster and style of play and how they use R.J. So it's something that came in late, but we're definitely going to look at it."
As for a decision timeframe, the elder Hampton said, "It won't be the first session of summer school. We'll decide and hopefully get on campus the second summer session."