I’ve gotten the opportunity to watch Dematha Catholic’s 2016 small forward Joe Hampton a lot this year, and as his season winds down, it’s probably time to review his game.
Hampton recently finished the WCAC tournament up after his team bowed out to Paul VI in the championship game. While that wasn’t the finish Hampton likely envisioned, his sophomore season can only be described as a success. Early on in the season the 6’7 big man was definitely going through a bit of an adjustment period in the rough WCAC, but over his final four games, Hampton averaged close to 20 points per game.
In one late season matchup against Paul VI, which resulted in a win for DeMatha, Hampton was particularly impressive. It’s rare that anyone really dominates Paul VI forward and 2014 Georgetown Hoyas commit Marcus Derrickson but Hampton did just that, finishing with 17 points, including a few made three pointers that showed off some major range.
Hampton’s listed height is in the 6’6/6’7 range, but is realistically closer to the 6’7/6’8 region. Put simply, he is not small. His listed weight is also 205, but that’s further from the truth than his height. When I spoke with him during the WCAC tournament, he told me he was around 250. He’s had his share of issues trimming down and keeping that weight off, but during the many times I’ve seen him, it looks like he’s trending towards getting into much better shape.
Positionally, after talking with him, his desire is to play the small forward position, and he’s certainly got the range and size to do so. However, at his weight, he’s closer to playing the power forward position at the next level, but is decidedly somewhere in between the two.
“The next two years I see myself playing the three,” Hampton told me. “In college, I see myself adjusting my game to play the two.”
(He refers to small forward and power forward here, FYI, not shooting guard)
The best part about Hampton’s offensive game is that it’s pretty much ahead of development in most categories. With most players his age and size, you’re still teaching footwork in the post and hoping that they’ll eventually develop some range. Well, Hampton can already hit jump shots with great accuracy from just about anywhere, including from long distance (“It just came along naturally with my game,”). He doesn’t have a ton of lift on his jump shot, but it’s very accurate and especially potent against slower big men.
But his game isn’t limited to just jump shots, because Hampton already has very good footwork in the post. Numerous times this season, and even against Derrickson, Hampton showed off a great ability to pivot in the post and use some finesse footwork down there to score effectively. He doesn’t have a bruising game right now, but he is as aggressive as he needs to be given that he also has a jump shot to rely on.
Also, though I’ve mentioned that Hampton will continually have to get into better shape, he’s good at running the floor with his teammates and passing in transition. Hampton has great hands, so he’s able to poke balls away from defenders and find open guys for transition scores. Occasionally he’ll carry the ball up the court, but it’s not something you want to see him doing all the time. He’s not a very selfish player at all, and while he does demand the ball a fair amount, he’s more than willing to facilitate for his teammates.
The weakest part of Hampton’s game right now is on the defensive end. He’s not quite tall enough to be a major defender in the post, but he’s not quick enough to guard some of the more athletic wings. That’s not to say he’s bad at either, because he has the strength to contain people in the post already and doesn’t jump when players pump fake. He also doesn’t foul a ton; the ability to stay on the court and play lots of minutes is so understated. As he gets in better shape, he’ll become a more respectable defender in most aspects, but don’t expect him to be elite anytime soon.
Hampton is high on Maryland’s radar right now, and you can expect him to shoot up the boards if he continues to get into better and better shape. As it stands, he’s the best player in Maryland and the 9th best power forward in his class. Best of all, he loves the Terps.
“Maryland is very high on the list,” Hampton said. “I’m very familiar with the coaching staff and they’ve come to a lot of my games.”
We’ll be sure to keep tabs on him as the AAU season kicks off in a couple months.