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Memphis AD: Penny Hardaway's RJ Hampton Workout 'Not in Line' with Protocols

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2020

Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway calls to players in the first half of an NCAA basketball game against SMU Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill/Associated Press

Memphis athletic director Laird Veatch said men's basketball coach Penny Hardaway should not have held workouts with NBA draft prospect RJ Hampton given protocols in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.ย 

"Coach Hardaway reached out to help a player he had built a relationship with in preparation for the upcoming NBA draft process," Veatch said, per Mark Giannotto of the Memphis Commercial Appeal (h/t USA Today). "Everyone in our program now recognizes that having any player development in the building is not in line with our current COVID-19 protocols, and it will not happen again until protocols have changed."

Giannotto noted the University of Memphis is conducting classes virtually and has only allowed students in the athletic facilities if they are rehabbing injuries.

Hampton played professionally for the New Zealand Breakers of Australia's National Basketball League but once strongly considered Memphis during his college recruitment.

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman projected Hampton as the No. 12 overall pick in a recent mock draft, highlighting his athleticism, ability to facilitate the break in transition and "enough shot-making and ball-screen playmaking to feel confident in his potential to create, score and pass at an adequate level in the half court."

As for Hardaway, he has been the Memphis men's basketball coach since the start of the 2018-19 season and has already developed a reputation as a formidable recruiter.

He landed the No. 1 recruiting class in the country in 2019, per 247Sports' composite rankings.

The former Orlando Magic point guard led the Tigers to a 22-14 record in his first season and 21-10 mark in his second. They were on the bubble to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 this past season until the Big Dance was cancelled because of the coronavirus.