Memphis is a city known for jazz, Elvis, and its overall swagger. With football beginning to be a perennial top 25 time year in and year out, the city had to look at perhaps the second largest sport in the country.
The University of Memphis Tigers has never been “bad” at basketball but they haven’t been a powerhouse either. So with football starting to take the spotlight, the college decided to hire perhaps the best player in basketball, maybe even best player regardless of sport, in Penny Hardaway.
Penny immediately brought a spark to the Memphis Tigers basketball team. He has brought a professional pedigree that can only come from someone who had a collegiate and professional career like he has had. By his iconic form of recruiting high school players that are known for their athleticism, and then teaching them true basketball skills later on, Penny has brought the high-flying dunks and breathtaking layups that basketball is famous for in the city of Memphis.
In Memphis, he is royalty, second only to Elvis Presley himself. With a name as large as his, recruiting was bound to take leaps forward and it will continue to get better. In just his four years coaching for the Memphis Tigers, he has brought in the first, third, fifth, seventh, tenth, and eleventh highest ranking recruits in school history!
These guys are someone of the best athletes that have ever set foot on the Tigers court. With his top notch staff and his own personal experiences, Penny is able to teach these athletes all they need to know so that they can dominate week in and week out.
While Penny has not quite lived up to all the hype, he is showing signs that in the next year, maybe two, his team will be a Final Four competitor. He has only been coaching since 2015 and has only been a college coach since 2018. The fact of the matter is, Penny is a tremendous recruiter and an amazing trainer. No one matches him in teaching young men how to play. But, as far as drawing up plays and supporting his team on the court in an actual game, he is still learning. Penny has shown his personal improvement every single year, and has shown how much winning means to him, his family, and this program; especially in 2022.
He is a fierce competitor and will be the first to tell you that he has not lived up to his own expectations and that he needs to do better. He will also point out that his 2022 squad was his best and most talented team, however, it was also his youngest and most injury prone team. At times, three to four starters were injured, forcing young men who were not even 17 to play against full grown men.
While Penny has not lived up to expectations yet, he has shown that this team and himself personally are taking steps in the right direction. His team for the 2022-2023 season looks to make it deep into the NCAA tournament, a feat that the teams in the past would not have really even considered possible.