The rise of Memphis and Penny Hardaway is here. A city and a basketball program are ready to take off. The hire of Penny Hardaway was at the expense of Tubby Smith, a national championship coach, who in 2017-18 finished the season 22-13. After six of his top scorers from the previous year transferred out he was fired in year two. Therefore, the firing was very questionable about being the right decision. Now, there’s no doubt it was the right call.
There was a different vision that the school of Memphis had in order to get to be a national power again. The last time they could say they were a national power was in 2008. Under the guidance of John Calipari, the Tigers reached the National Championship Game, which they lost in overtime to Kansas. That vision was Hardaway, a person with a great connection to the community and the AAU circuit especially in Memphis. The plan was to bring in high-level recruits who can learn from former NBA professionals in Sam Mitchell, Mike Miller and Penny Hardaway.
Year one was to build a culture and a foundation for the current players at Memphis, but the real foundation was on the recruiting trail.
2018 Recruiting Class
Hardaway and his staff added Alex Lomax, Tyler Harris and Antwann Jones during the 2018 recruiting class. Memphis had a successful year one going 22-14 with great progress and growth with the development of both Alex Lomax and Tyler Harris.
First Big Signees
Penny Hardaway was the high school coach of the number one player in the 2019 class (according to 247sports) James Wiseman. James Wiseman is the first big piece Hardaway and his staff landed.
This allowed Memphis to start off strong on the recruiting trail and build momentum. Memphis has also added D.J. Jefferies, the number 48 overall recruit according to 247 Sports after he de-committed from Kentucky. This showed the national landscape that Memphis will compete with the best of the best on the recruiting trail.
The following recruits have been committed during the Spring Recruiting Period:
Lester Quinones, Shooting Guard
Quinones is a shooting guard and the number 56 overall recruit according to 247 Sports. He’s a very good shooter with really good size and can handle the ball.
Boogie Ellis, Combo Guard
A de-commit from Duke, Ellis then signed with Memphis. He is the number 37 overall recruit according to 247 Sports. He will be a big help to the perimeter shooting. In addition, he will be contributing well as an on-ball defender who will get loose balls and rebounds.
Rayjon Tucker, Small Forward
The graduate transfer from Arkansas Little-Rock is a big-time player who will give a veteran presence to Memphis’ young team. Tucker will be heavily utilized on the perimeter as the go-to scorer from all three levels.
Precious Achiuwa, Power Forward
Now in the past few days, they have just added another top 10 recruit in Precious Achiuwa the number nine rated prospect according to 247 Sports. He’s a high-level athlete and will fit in great next to Wiseman with his motor and finishing ability.
The recruiting class gives them the number one overall class for 2019 according to 247 Sports. This is only the beginning for Memphis. The NBA experience of Hardaway, Miller and Mitchell give Memphis a great advantage when recruiting high-level talent. They will continue to compete with the likes of Duke and Kentucky for top level recruits. This will make Memphis a national brand again and they will look to dominate the American Conference. The time is now for Memphis to compete against the “blue bloods” of college basketball. Memphis will be a top 10 team for the 2019-20 season. They have the recruits, now can Penny Hardaway mesh them all together and create a monster on the court?
Images Courtesy of, 247 Sports, Lexington Herald Leader, ESPN 92.9 – Radio.com
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