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.