While Memphis did miss out on hometown prospect Jaylen Fisher Wednesday, they did manage to land a recruit in their 2016 class. Small forward Jimario Rivers, who currently attends Southwest Tennessee CC and is from Clarksville, Tennessee, verbally committed to Josh Pastner’s program according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.
The slender 6-foot-8 small forward is Memphis’ first commitment in the Class of 2016, and he plays a position at which Memphis needed to add some depth for the future.
While the Tigers do have one talented underclassman at the position in freshman K.J. Lawson, they also have two seniors in Trahson Burrell and Chris Hawkins. Adding Rivers gives Memphis some needed depth for the 2016-17 campaign. As a freshman Rivers averaged 10.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, shooting nearly 55 percent from the field.
With Rivers on board Memphis has some needed good news on the recruiting trail. Over the last month the Tigers missed out on two key targets in junior college guard Ar’Mond Davis (who de-committed and made his pledge to Alabama) and Top 100 prospect Jaylen Fisher. Now Memphis continues its search for a point guard, with Chicago native Charlie Moore among the targets.
With three scholarship seniors in its backcourt rotation entering the 2015-16 season, UNLV had some holed to fill with regards to the Class of 2016. Dave Rice and his staff have managed to address this issue on the recruiting trail, and Wednesday evening the Mountain West program received its fourth verbal commitment in the Class of 2016.
6-foot-2 point guard Jaylen Fisher, ranked 55th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, announced that he will be a Runnin’ Rebel. Fisher, who attends Bolton HS in Memphis and played for the Team Thad grassroots program, picked UNLV over Memphis, Arkansas, Baylor and Indiana.
He joins fellow guard Christian Vital, wing Carlos Johnson and four-star forward Justin Jackson in UNLV’s 2016 recruiting class to date.
Adding Fisher to the mix gives UNLV another option at the point in 2016-17, with Daquan Cook due to be a redshirt senior that year with the two freshmen (Fisher and Vital) coming aboard. Fisher’s a good ball-handler and distributor who can also help UNLV defensively at the point. UNLV won’t lack for talent off the ball either, with sophomores Pat McCaw and Jordan Cornish having eligibility remaining as will current freshman Jalen Poyser.
And while the addition of Fisher is a positive for UNLV, having a talented player leave your city isn’t a good sign for Memphis especially when considering the pressure on head coach Josh Pastner to get the Tigers back to playing at the level their fan base expects them to play at.
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.
Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.
“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”
Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.
As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.