Penny Hardaway’s building a monster down in Memphis
By Rob DausterMay 13, 2019, 8:33 AM EDT
There is a new bully on the block in the college basketball recruiting world, and his name is Penny Hardaway.
We already knew that Penny was going to put a fence around the city of Memphis and make any local kid a Tiger. What we didn’t necessarily know what how he would be able to recruit outside of the city, but it looks like he is going to be just fine.
On Friday evening, Hardaway landed a commitment from Lester Quinones, a four-star shooting guard from New York by way of IMG Academy in Florida. A day later, Hardaway picked up the second-best grad transfer on the market in Rayjon Tucker, a 6-foot-5 wing that averaged better than 20 points and shot 41 percent from three as a redshirt junior with Arkansas-Little Rock last season. There is still a chance that Tucker ends up in the NBA instead of back in college — he is, in my opinion, a very real NBA prospect given his athleticism and shooting ability — but if he does end up on Penny’s roster, he’ll be, at minimum, the second-best player in the program behind potential No. 1 pick James Wiseman.
And Penny is not done yet, either.
Memphis still has two open scholarships left, and the Tigers are very much in the mix for R.J. Hampton, Precious Achiuwa, Trendon Watford and Boogie Ellis. If the minds behind 247 Sports’ Crystal Ball are to be believed, then five-star New York native Achiuwa and four-star former Duke commit Ellis are going to make their way to the Bluff City this fall.
That’s where this thing gets scary.
Because Penny’s recruiting is not going to slow down.
He’s an NBA legend that has his own signature shoe and is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of nine figures. He is everything that each and every one of the kids that he is recruiting wants to be. His lead assistant is Mike Miller, who spent more than a decade in the NBA and won titles playing alongside the King himself, LeBron James.
They are going to get the players, and not just from within Memphis’ city limits.
And what we saw out of the Tigers last season was a team that played hard for that coaching staff.
As it stands, this Memphis team is shaping up to have top ten talent on the roster once again, and if Penny finds a way to get them playing as hard as his team did last season, they are going to be a force.
I don’t think this will be just a one year flash-in-the-pan, either.
The Tigers are back, and college basketball as a whole is better for it.
_______________________________________ You ain't the only one whose got problems. You ain't the only one who knows pain. Get up off your ass and just solve them. You still got a chance to try to change, try the shit again. Devin tha Dude
2. "Old article, as Ellis already signed with Memphis." In response to Reply # 0
Would be really surprised if Precious doesn't go there too.
It'll be interesting to see how Penny does. People assert that Duke and Kentucky have issues winning when their teams are too young, and Memphis's team will be younger than both next year. They also have four stars on the perimeter, and their bigs, Wiseman and Achiuwa (presumably), are athletic powerhouses but raw offensively.
My guess is they'll rely *a lot* on Tucker and Ellis for offense, who I suspect is sneakily five-star good, but Tucker is a bit of a black hole scorer (he's never averaged 2 APG in college to date), and Ellis is more of a small scoring guard than a point guard himself. So I wonder how the ball movement will be, how effective they will be in creating for Achiuwa and Wiseman, and just what sort of offense Penny will operate-- I imagine he'll try to run run run to mitigate some of the offensive rawness and to use their athleticism advantage, but there may be a *lot* of turnovers if they play that way.
My prediction: they're at worst a Top 3 AAC team, probably the preseason favorite in the conference (though Houston and Wichita State may both compete to be ranked next season as well imo). I suspect they'll struggle early, find their footing, and make the tournament... but if their guard play isn't up to snuff, don't be surprised by an early exit. Wiseman can't create for himself, and Achiuwa is just a wrecking ball bully kind of guy at this point. They need Ellis and Tucker to play high-efficiency basketball to make their Sweet 16/Elite Eight hopes a reality. (Which is more or less true of any super-young team-- the wings need to play well and avoid turnovers.)
After that, who knows? Wiseman, Tucker, and probably Achiuwa will leave, but I'd imagine they return Ellis and Quinones, so their sustained success will be class-dependent. It may honestly be even easier for him after OAD is done away with in 2022, because he'll always maintain a talent advantage in the AAC, so when the youth card is more or less taken off the table when players are more likely to remain multiple years, that's when Penny can really start to flex, in theory. We'll learn a lot this year about what he does when he's got a talent advantage but an insanely young roster.
6. "They climbed like eighty KenPom rankings from start to finish last year." In response to Reply # 5
If I recall correctly. Meaning they should've been worse than they were by a healthy margin.
I think there's reason to be optimistic about Penny's abilities as a coach. Whether he can handle a stacked roster of extreme talent remains to be seen, but he coached in AAU, so it's not like he's unfamiliar with what these kids can do.
11. "^^^Penny was a smart, fundamentally sound player" In response to Reply # 10
is a basketball legend - worldwide and especially in Memphis, has one of the most popular basketball signature shoe lines of all time, stepped in and got his start by coaching a middle school team in the neighborhood he grew up in when his friend’s(the coach) cancer wouldn’t allow him to keep coaching, has consistently donated his time and money to the city of Memphis.
12. "eh, I doubt he's going any harder than the others" In response to Reply # 8
He just happens to be a former NBA star, a guy who can say with credibility that he was one of the most famous players in the world for a time, and his bench has at least one NBA champion on it leading the assistant recruiting pack.
Combine that with his intense familiarity with the HS/AAU world, and combine that with the fact that he did a pretty obviously good job coaching last year? And combine THAT with their weaker conference, which could give them a strong choice to lose <5 games total next year? And combine THAT with the fact that they brought back very little talent from the previous year to compete for minutes with?
Besides, the only 5 stars he got were Wiseman and Precious, IIRC. So while, yes, the sport has its dirt, I doubt he's going much dirtier than the others.
And even if they *did* try to come down on him for being a young black coach doing this, Penny's been pretty open about doing this as an NBA coaching audition. He probably doesn't give a fuck about what the NCAA says, because if he can win with a ton of young talent, he'll get NBA attention, and even if they say, "YOU'RE SANCTIONED AND YOUR WINS ARE BEING TAKEN!" why the fuck would he care about any of that? lol. The NCAA's empty-ass threats are a huge reason why the sport is the way it is today.