For the second time in just three weeks as the head coach of the Memphis Tigers, Penny Hardaway did something that Tubby Smith wasn’t able to do: land a commitment from a top 150 prospect from the city of Memphis.
On Friday, it was Tyler Harris, a 5-foot-9 point guard, that committed to the Tigers over the likes of Iowa State and Baylor. Three weeks ago, it was Alex Lomax, a point guard that had signed an NLI with Wichita State, that got out of his commitment and pledged to the Tigers.
There are a couple of reasons that this is intriguing.
For starters, suddenly Memphis is attracting talent again, and Memphis having a good, relevant basketball team is just good for the sport of college basketball as a whole. If Penny can figure things out at Memphis and Danny Hurley figures things out at UConn all while SMU, Cincinnati and Wichita State remain consistently in the mix for the NCAA tournament, we’re looking at the AAC being a strong league, particularly at the top.
What’s even more interesting is the amount of talent in the city of Memphis that is associated with Penny, from James Wiseman, the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2019, to D.J. Jeffries, a five-star recruit currently committed to Kentucky, to the last two Lawson brothers. Getting Lomax and Harris are good building blocks and program recruits. Getting those other kids, however, is what puts Memphis back on the map.
We’ll see how it all plays out.