The R.J. Hampton Blog: Back in the States, Pre-Draft Workouts and More

R.J. Hampton

R.J. Hampton was a top five player in the 2019 class before he shocked everyone and opted to play professionally in New Zealand rather than to suit up in college. He’s also projected to be a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft in June. Now, he’s agreed to give Sports Illustrated exclusive access into his world by chronicling everything from his experience as a first-year pro to his preparation for the Draft in a blog.

What’s up guys, it’s R.J. Hampton coming at you with a new blog!

I’m super happy to be back in Texas!

My plan was always to finish the whole season out, but I ended up hurting my hip and my timetable to get back was gonna be after the season so the team and my agent thought it would be in my best interest to rehab and prepare for the Draft.

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I initially got hurt on December 5 and was out a month then came back and it still wasn’t right so that’s when I decided to shut it down.

All in all, I had a great experience. I felt like we could’ve played better, but the lessons I learned in the time that I was over there invaluable.

Like one of the biggest ones I learned was how important it is to really take care of your body. People say that all the time, but playing with older guys I saw how they would come an hour before everyone and get a good stretch in or get a good sweat in before the game.

Most of you probably saw that I bought my mom a car when I got back, and that was something that I was really excited to do.

I had been planning it for months, but I didn’t know what I wanted to get her. Then I heard her talking about the Range Rover and we had it shipped from Florida to Houston.

She thought I was getting mine, but I ended up surprising her with hers!

It was something that I always wanted to do, so it was a blessing to be able to do that.

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Right now, I’m back working out and rehabbing my hip.

When I got back the first place I had to go to get something to eat from was Whataburger! I went straight there.

The food that I miss the most over there is probably the Tai food. I think they have better Tai food over there.

I was still in New Zealand when the unfortunate news broke that Kobe had passed.

It hurt my heart, but Kobe was so global that everyone over there was just as hurt. I ended up getting a tattoo on my calf of Kobe and Gigi.

I did get the chance to meet Kobe a long time ago. I was really young, but I’m just glad that I actually got the chance to meet him.

I think going forward what I’ll take from Kobe is his mindset. I feel like Kobe would want me as a young ball player to focus on being better than him.

So I’m dedicating my career to that. Kobe wouldn’t want me to pursue anything less.

It’s the Mamba Mentality!

It’s crazy to think that the NBA Draft is just four months away.

I remember seeing other guys that were preparing for the Draft after their seasons were over and all the excitement that they had during that time. It’s just surreal to me that I’m experiencing that now.

It’s a weird, but great feeling.

OK guys I appreciate you reading.

I’ll be back with another update soon.

Take care and I’ll talk to you then.

Twitter: @RjHampton14

Instagram: rj14