With Memphis losing its top four guards from last season, there’s plenty of room for newcomers and returnees alike to earn playing time in 2014-15. The late addition of Vanderbilt transfer Kedren Johnson will help matters, provided he’s granted immediate eligibility, but there’s another talented newcomer expected by some to make an immediate impact for Memphis.
Trahson Burrell averaged 25.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game as a sophomore at Lee College in Texas, and his versatility is something Memphis can use on the wing. The only issue: the NCAA had yet to clear Burrell for competition. That changed Thursday, as head coach Josh Pastner formally announced that Burrell has been cleared for game action. According to reports Burrell was on the court with his new teammates for the first time on Wednesday.
Adding a versatile player of Burrell’s caliber will give Memphis a needed boost, especially when considering the amount of perimeter experience the team lost at the end of last season. If Johnson can receive the waiver he needs to be eligible to play immediately, the Tigers’ perimeter depth concerns will have been addressed.
Among the returnees on the perimeter are Nick King, Kuran Iverson, Markel Crawford, who redshirted last season after suffering a knee injury, and Pookie Powell. Powell wasn’t available to play last season due to academic issues, but he was able to run the show for the team during its trip to Canada last month. That experience should help Powell given the fact that he wasn’t able to work out with the program in 2013-14.
SMU may be the favorite in the American Athletic Conference but they won’t lack for challengers, with defending national champion UConn, Cincinnati and Memphis considered to be the challengers. Getting Burrell cleared to play further strengthens Memphis’ status as a contender.