VIDEO: 2017 power forward Isaiah Stokes shatters backboard

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As the younger brother of former Tennessee power forward Jarnell Stokes, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 2017 power forward Isaiah Stokes plays with similar authority. At one point a dual-sport athlete with football also getting attention, the younger Stokes has decided to focus on basketball with a host of high major programs looking to land his commitment. And Thursday afternoon at the adidas Summer Championships in Las Vegas, Stokes displayed the strength and power he’s been known for.

Late in the M33M Elite program’s win over the Iowa Barnstormers, Stokes threw down a two-handed dunk that shattered the backboard and can be seen above. Stokes fell onto the chards of glass that accumulated under the basket, and he needed three stitches to close up a wound on his left pinky finger. Stokes told ESPN.com that while he had intentions of breaking the backboard, he “didn’t think I’d be able to do it.”

Games on that court were delayed for a couple hours due to the clean-up process and the need to bring in a replacement basket. According to ESPN.com Stokes is down to five schools: Memphis, Tennessee, Florida, Iowa State and South Carolina.

Memphis forward Lawson to return for sophomore season

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Less than a week after going through the NBA Draft Combine, one of the most productive freshmen in the country last season has decided to return for his sophomore campaign.

Memphis forward Dedric Lawson, who earlier this spring went back and forth on whether or not to enter his name into the Draft (his father’s status on staff could have played a role in that), will return to school to play for new head coach Tubby Smith. Lawson’s decision was first reported by CBSSports.com.

Last season Lawson averaged 15.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, earning American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year honors as a result. With head coach Josh Pastner leaving for Georgia Tech the question many had was what would happen with Lawson’s father, who was an assistant each of the last two seasons, when Smith was hired from Texas Tech.

Ultimately the changing of an NCAA rule allowed Smith to reassign the elder Lawson to keep him in the fold, albeit in a non-coaching role. Dedric went on to go through the pre-Draft process to get feedback from NBA scouts and executives, with the decision being made that another year in college would be best for him. Lawson’s return gives Memphis a clear go-to option offensively, and he has the talent to (at minimum) make a run at conference Player of the Year honors in 2016-17.

Former Coppin State guard Kessee commits to Memphis

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With many of the key perimeter contributors from Memphis’ 2015-16 team out of eligibility, new head coach Tubby Smith and his staff had some work to do to fill out their roster on the recruiting trail. Thursday afternoon the program received a commitment from guard Christian Kessee, who last season played at Coppin State and will be eligible to compete immediately as a grad student.

Kessee took to Twitter to make the announcement, and it comes just a couple days after he took an official visit to the Memphis campus.

As a junior the 6-foot-2 Las Vegas native averaged 14.6 points and 2.5 rebounds in 32.5 minutes of action per game for the Eagles, shooting 39.0 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from beyond the arc. He’ll join a perimeter rotation that includes rising sophomores Randall Broddie, Craig Randall II, Jeremiah Martin and Dante Scott and redshirt junior Markel Crawford.

Of that quintet the most experienced returnee is Crawford, who made 25 starts and averaged 5.3 points in 20.2 minutes per game.

Memphis is still awaiting a decision from forward Dedric Lawson, who’s currently at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. Lawson, who was the American Athletic Conference’s top freshman last season, has not hired an agent and would have until May 25 to withdraw from the Draft in order to return for his sophomore campaign.

NCAA rule change that impacts Memphis coaching staff now official

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One of the more popular topics in college basketball in recent weeks was the status of Memphis assistant coach Keelon Lawson and sons Dedric and K.J. in the aftermath of the school hiring Tubby Smith. Would Smith keep the elder Lawson on staff as an assistant, thus in all likelihood ensuring that Dedric and K.J. would return as well? Would he let go or attempt to reassign Keelon, and as a result risk losing two players from an already limited roster?

Ultimately Smith decided to reassign Keelon to a non-coaching position, making him director of player development. And with the NCAA having a rule that those with a connection to a prospective student-athlete had to serve in a coaching capacity for the player’s first two seasons, the question was whether or not Memphis would need a waiver to pull off the move.

Luckily for Memphis the NCAA was looking into an alteration of the rule, and on Thursday with the NCAA not taking action on Proposal 2015-30 the change became official.

Under the new rule a coach’s two years on staff would begin immediately upon his arrival. In the case of Lawson this is key as he spent a year on former Memphis head coach Josh Pastner’s staff before Dedric and K.J. enrolled. With the two-year requirement ruled to be served under the new proposal, Smith could reassign Keelon Lawson without having to ask the NCAA for a waiver.

The next step as far as Memphis is concerned is Dedric, who ultimately entered his name into the NBA Draft pool (without an agent), withdrawing and returning to school for his sophomore season. As a freshman Dedric was the best freshman in the American Athletic Conference, averaging 15.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game for the Tigers. DraftExpress.com currently ranks him 28th amongst college freshmen, which makes him no sure thing to be drafted should he decide to stay in the draft.

At the very least the next month should result in Dedric receiving constructive feedback from NBA scouts and executives that he can use to improve next season.

K.J. played in just ten games last season due to a lingering Achilles tendon issue, averaging 8.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. The hope is that K.J. will be granted a medical redshirt for last season, thus preserving a year of eligibility.

Memphis to hire Texas Tech’s Tubby Smith

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Just about a week after Josh Pastner made the decision to move from Memphis to Georgia Tech to take its head coaching position, Memphis has found the next leader of its program.

As first reported by CBSSports.com, Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith has agreed to become the next head coach at Memphis.

Smith’s move comes after three years in Lubbock, with the Red Raiders reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007 this past season. Smith has led five programs to the NCAA tournament as a head coach, and in 1998 won a national title at Kentucky.

He arrives in Memphis with some talent to work with, led by the American Athletic Conference’s top freshman in forward Dedric Lawson. Lawson’s brother K.J., who missed most of this season due to injury, will be back in the fold as well. But there are some holes to fill on the roster, most notably in the backcourt as four seniors have moved on and Avery Woodson decided to transfer. The first open evaluation period of the spring begins Friday, so getting this move done before then was important for Memphis from a recruiting standpoint.

Under Pastner Memphis reached the NCAA tournament four times, with the most recent trip coming in 2014. But they won just two games in those four trips, failing to get out of the first weekend. That’s the task for Smith, who moves to a league that while solid at the top does not have the depth that the Big 12 boasted. That should make the process of contending for (and winning) conference titles more manageable that it would have been had he remained in Lubbock.

Brown scores 14 to help No. 24 SMU beat Memphis 69-62

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Sterling Brown scored 14 points to help No. 24 SMU shake off pesky Memphis in a 69-62 victory Thursday night.

SMU leading scorer Nic Moore was held without a point in the first half, but his floater with less than a minute to play gave the Mustangs (23-4, 11-4 American Athletic Conference) a 65-62 lead. Moore finished with 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting.

Memphis led 57-56 until Shake Milton hit a 3-pointer and Brown a pair of free throws for a four-point SMU advantage.

Jeremiah Martin missed a corner shot that would have given Memphis a lead with less than a minute to go before Moore hit his floater. With his team up 65-62, Moore stole the ball and Brown drew an intentional foul and made two from the line.

Marcus Kennedy had 12 points and eight rebounds for SMU.

Dedric Lawson scored 18 for Memphis (15-13, 6-9), and Ricky Tarrant Jr. added 15 points and seven assists.

Memphis has taken some very disappointing losses lately, including to AAC cellar dwellers East Carolina and Tulane, and Saturday at South Florida.

This one was more respectable.

Memphis led 57-56 on Trashon Burrell’s bank shot with less than 7 minutes left before Milton hit his go-ahead 3.

Moore, who was averaging 16.8 points per game, made his first shot with 12:09 left. It was SUM’s second 3-pointer of the game and it tied the score at 47.

The Mustangs led 31-30 at halftime.

TIP-INS

Memphis: The school needed to average 6,812 fans over the last two home games of the season to receive between $420,000 and $480,000 from the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, who also play at the FedExForum. That is a prorated amount of the $800,000 the Tigers would get if they averaged 10,000 fans per game.

SMU: Junior guard Jonathan Wilfong drew his first start of the season in his hometown. Wilfong has appeared in 14 games. He played the first 4 minutes and did not attempt a shot.

UP NEXT

SMU hosts Tulane on Sunday.

Memphis hosts Tulsa on Sunday.