Top-50 Team Countdown: #39.Memphis Tigers
The Tigers enter into this season with a new coach in Penny Hardaway and are looking to win right away. While most of the talk is about the high ranking recruiting classes the Tigers expect to get, the Tigers do return their top four scorers from last years team that finished fifth in the AAC. The star player is Jeremiah Martin, although Kareem Brewton Jr, Kevin Davenport, and Mike Parks Jr. were all key contributors last season. The Tigers also got three four-star recruits and JUCO Forward Isaiah Maurice, all of whom should be good this season. While most expect this team to be a middle of the pack team in the AAC, I think they will surprise some people this season and make the NCAA Tournament, while competing atop the AAC standings.
The Tigers are once again going to be led by senior point guard Jeremiah Martin, who was an All-AAC player last year and should continue to play at that level this season. Martin’s experience and ability to score make him a potential AAC player of the year threat. The team also returns Kareem Brewton Jr. who is another good ball handler and has shown the ability to hit clutch shots in late stages of games. The Tigers bring in Antwann Jones, a 6’6” guard who is a big guard who has proven he has the ability to score the ball at an elite level. One of the key recruiting wins was when Memphis got Alex Lomax a four-star recruit to play at Memphis after he decommitted from Wichita State. The Tigers also were able to add Tyler Harris to their roster late in the recruiting calendar, Harris is another player who has the ability to play point guard. Raynere Thornton is a wing, who has proven himself from behind the arc and also can play a small-ball four at times. The Tigers overall have a good mix of experience and talent in the backcourt which is key for any team looking to win.
The Tigers return two starting players from last years team while adding a former Kansas State role player in Isaiah Maurice. Kyvon Davenport gets the majority of publicity inside, as he is an athletic player who has the ability to score the ball with ease inside the paint. Mike Parks Jr. is an interior force inside, showing an old school back to the basket type force. Isaiah Maurice has proven himself at times to be an elite level prospect at times but has yet to show the consistency needed to be relied upon heavily as a key contributor. This team has the size and athletic ability to help keep Memphis stable up front.
Penny Hardaway wasted no time in year one with his scheduling, as the Tigers will have one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the sport. The Tigers start the season with a home game against Tennessee Tech before they head on the road to play LSU. The Tigers then will play in the AdvoCare Invitational, which has a field containing three likely Top-25 teams in Villanova, Florida State, and LSU. The Tigers will also play Texas Tech in Miami and at home against Tennessee in non-conference play. The Tigers will begin AAC play at home on January 3rd and will end the regular season with a home game against Tulsa on March 9th. The AAC tournament runs March 14th-17th, with the NCAA Tournament beginning on March 19th if the Tigers make it there.
What to expect this season
Much of the Tigers success will be dependent on how well Penny Hardaway can adjust to coaching at the College level, that being said he does have the city of Memphis behind him. Memphis will likely struggle coming out of the gates, which will be in large part due to the tough schedule the Tigers have in front of them and the fact that they will have to blend experienced players with their great freshman class. Once AAC play comes around the Tigers should start to roll and if they come together like expected they could easily win the AAC.
PG: Jeremiah Martin
SG: Kareem Brewton Jr.
SF: Antwann Jones
PF: Kyvon Davenport
C: Mike Parks Jr.
Key Reserves: Alex Lomax, Tyler Harris, Raynere Thornton, Isaiah Maurice
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