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Penny Hardaway on quite the recruiting roll at Memphis

Penny Hardaway impressed me at the Marshall County Hoopfest and is impressing everyone now with his recruiting at Memphis. (Connie Allen Photo)


Obviously I knew plenty about Penny Hardaway from his days as a star for Memphis and then in the NBA. But I had never met him until he brought his Memphis East High School team to play in the Marshall county Hoopfest two years ago.

I found him personable and easy to talk with. I found him engaging. I could also sense that he had a real connection with young players who obviously both admired him and trusted him.

Now he’s into his second season as the head coach at Memphis after taking over for Tubby Smith. Many thought Hardaway could have some success, but I am not sure anyone thought he could have the recruiting success he’s having now.

It started with convincing James Wiseman, the top player in the 2019 recruiting class, to sign with Memphis and not Kentucky as most had been expecting. Of course, Wiseman played a year for Hardaway at Memphis East and was also in the AAU program headed by Hardaway.

Former UK commit D.J. Jeffries, another Memphis area player with AAU connections to Hardaway, picked Memphis after changing his mind about UK. Recently Duke committee Boogie Ellis switched his pledge to Memphis.

He’s also signed Malcolm Dandrige, another former Memphis East player, and Damion Baugh, a Tennessee Prep star I also watched play at Marshall County Hoopfest. Both are top 100 players.

He’s also signed top 50 player Lester Quinones, a 6-5 guard from IMG Academy in Florida, and could well still add five-star Precious Achiuwa, a McDonald’s All-American and a likely one-and-done star like Wiseman.

And yes he did also add Rayjon Tucker as a grad transfer from Little Rock. That may not overly impress you but Tucker is one of the top grad transfers in the country.

Memphis basketball has not been so hot since the days current UK coach John Calipari was leading the Tigers to the Final Four. Hardaway has made the nation pay attention again.

Now he has to win, something I think he’ll do this year. He knows basketball and while this will just be his second year as a college coach, he’s got plenty of talent to work with.

If he has a good season and gets players ready for the NBA, then it won’t matter if his team doesn’t win the title or even make the Final Four. He’ll have shown he’s a force to be reckoned with nationally and a coach that will battle Calipari — or anyone else — for top talent annually.


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  1. Recruiting is so fickle! You can be the flavor of the day one year and fall off the planet the next. I agree with you, if he has a fun year with success. If he does not make the final four with the talent he is gathering at Memphis, it will hurt his recruiting for future top recruits. He now must prove his worth each and every year! This is true for all top college coaches. This year for example will hurt coach K at Duke because he failed to make the final four with very elite talent! The advantage that Cal and coach K have over Hardaway is that they have built up years of success that Hardaway does not have. With Hardaway’s lack of experience in coaching, he has a much shorter leash than established coaches. That is why he must have final fours and championships to catch up or recruiting will fall off. Only time will tell which of us is right. Hardaway has been given a lot of credit that he may or may not live up too. It is way to early for him to join the group of elite college coaches. I hope Penny and Memphis have a fantastic year, because it is good for college basketball.

    1. @ Ben27:
      I fully agree with your observations.

  2. Good recruiting on Hardaway’s part, no doubt. Memphis should be very good. That said, we shall see. He has to get a group of freshmen ready. That is not as easy as it sounds even with all this talent.

  3. Coach K has had loaded OAD teams for the last 2 years and couldn’t get it done. Lets see what Penny does??

    1. My feeling about Penny is that he is going to be better than many want to believe

  4. I think Penny exceeded everyone’s expectations for last year and YTBD to see what he will do with all this talent. I wish the sites would stop giving McDaniels all this attention. Yes, he would be a great addition to the team if we got him. He and his family have to know, at this point in time, where he is going to go. He supposedly is quiet and reserved but seems to possess a lot of signs of being happy as a Drama King and getting everyone’s attention.

  5. Move over Cal…..Penny has arrived and has, at least for now, the #1 recruiting class in the country. Coach K now not the only concern threat to stay on top of the throne. Can Cal reclaim it? I hope so and hope we do so without McDaniel. The kid meets my definition of a “head job”. Besides, do we really need another 6’10” bean pole that, according to some gurus, has problems with effort, competitiveness, and his jump shot. We already had 2 on bench last year.

  6. Be careful Mike. Speaking the truth like you do will pissoff Pup and Hornet. I agree with you that McDaniels is trouble that we don’t need. As for Penny’s rise to the top of the recruiting wars…Wiseman signing with him was as much about not wanting to come to KY as it was playing for him. It didn’t take Jefferies long to see what goes on in the KY circus tent either and he bailed. Watching Reid Travis be so poorly used last season will scare off any decent big. I hope Reid gets a chance to show what he is capable of land with a good team. I see PJ going to the G league, losing interest, and serving fries at a McDonald’s like Pup.

    1. Catmandoo…..maybe you had better be a little careful. I think Pup has higher expectations.

      1. Our two resident TROLLS are at it again. Go for it boys, We will see how the future goes with the HOF Calipari heading up and taking to new heights the Kentucky Wildcats under his lifetime contract. He is here to stay Dukemandoo1000. Do I hear crying Dukemandoo? Cal has already far exceeded expectations for any Big Blue fan with half a brain. Both of you Duke boys are trying to disguise yourselves as Big Blue fans, but we all know the truth. When UK wins No. 9, you two will have no place to hide here on VV’s for all you have said about our great Coach. Keep rooting for all our rivals boys, and being negative at all times. Give us all a laugh at times and show how silly you two really are.

        1. Pup….it’s ok to stop tripping over your ego. There is nothing out there that would remotely qualify you to lead the psychology dept. here in VW. You need to chill out and stop taking life so seriously. We all enjoy the freedom to post as we feel at any given point in time. Catmandoo has been more accurate than you have been.

          1. Well, well Mlke, you are taking sides I see. You have one follower it seems. it is you and Dukemandoo1000 against everybody else here on VV’s, and everything UK, generally speaking. As far as accuracy, you two TROLLS don’t know what that word means evidently, since you get it confused with negativity all the time. I know crazy when I hear it, so does all true Cat fans that read your dribble. So, just expressing my opinion here, as you do, and enjoying the freedom to strongly disagree with most everything you two clowns have too say concerning UK basketball and football. You like to appear relevant to UK sports, but you are really not. Barnhart is still calling the shots, and doing a good job. Cal has a lifetime contract, and BBN is pretty happy with his record and his future, except for you two DUKIES, or is it Tigers now? Like several of us have suggested, you two go find a team that never looses, never misses out on a recruit, and wins a national championship every year. You will be much happier. Problem is, they don’t exist. To constantly harp or Calipari all the time shows your ignorance.

  7. Mike @ Cat:
    Now that you two are offering your opinions on Hardaway and Memphis, would you please share your opinions of Krzyzewski and Duke?
    I’m interested to know hat you think of that program.

    Thank you

    1. Hornet, I am waiting to hear from the TROLLS on your question. Their answer, or the lack of an answer will reveal a lot. On the other hand, Mike and Dukemandoo have already wrote Calipari off as a recruiter and coach, time and time again. They have made that quite clear as to their thinking. Let’s see, Coach “K” over at Duke, their hero, with all that talent, didn’t win a championship this past season, even with super star ZW. I guess he can’t coach now either, and Hardaway is stealing recruits right and left, so I guess the Duke headman can’t recruit either acccording to the two residantT ROLLS. Hummm?

      1. First K comes and steals and controls Cal’s OND model and knocks off his #1 recruits 1 after another…then a coach with no college coaching
        experience comes in and steals #1 recruit and knocks Cal off #1 recruiting perch at least temporarily..and then relatively unknown coach comes in and steals one of Cal’s remaining Top 10 recruits….yes, the mighty have fallen.

        1. Breaker, Breaker…Do you copy?
          Did you receive my question?
          Please respond and share your opinions of Krzyzewski and Duke.
          10-4 ?

          1. Ok Mikey, TROLL No. 2, and you have earned the title well you little nerd. Did all the jocks pick on you in HS? You little sissy. Dukemandoo1000 is a notch above you. He is the star TROLL here on this blog. The Chief TROLL. You two are laughable. Two little peas in the pod of insignificance. UK sports just keeps marching on, showing you two how out of touch you really are with your continuing negative comments about everything UK sports, including ripping our players even after a victory. Listen to it again and weep “LIFETIME CONTRACT.” Calipari, HOF coach and greatest recruiter in college basketball ever is here to stay. All of BBN minus you two are very happy. I probably couldn’t make the cheerleading team, my legs are not that hot, and they are way to hairy.

        2. Spoken like a true TROLL. Go for it Mike. Give us some more laughs.

            • Mike on May 20, 2019 at 2:02 pm

            Pup…..You should be thankful that Catmandoo hits you with accurate sniper shots but doesn’t return to clean up your litter. If he did your ego would be totally shattered. I guess you didn’t receive the memo that cheer leading dept. not accepting new applications. We can’t wait till FB season starts so we can continue to receive your long, rather boring chatter.

            • Mike on May 20, 2019 at 4:36 pm

            Pup……..the more you ramble on the more insecurity you show….you, my friend, appear to be in need of some serious intervention. Once again, you are very lucky that Catmandoo is not monitoring your nonsense because he would turn you into a hood ornament in very short order. I used to agree with many of your posts when you weren’t immune to truth and facts….praise them when earned and tell it like it is when they have earned that as well. You do need therapy because you are too consumed with your inane BS….I am a Trumper all the way and you seem like a Mayor Pete with a husband to show for it….LOL

          1. If you are a Trumper you are smarter than you sound. I had you figured as a vote for Pocahantus all the way. You are still a TROLL, and I guess Dukemandoo is your wing man now. You seem to be the chief TROLL for now, but hang in, it is very close. You Duke boys are real close. A remarkable feat for such a low IQ as you seem to have. Did you even attend HS?

      2. @ Larry Pup:
        I’ve been patiently waiting for a response, but all I’m getting is static on this end. I hope your reception is better than mine. I must be the weather conditions down here in Florida blocking Mike’s signal.

        1. Hornet,
          Duke and Coach K are the antichrist in college basketball. They have won 3 national titles in the past 15 years though, as have North Carolina, Villanova, and Connecticutt. That’s 12 out of 15, oh yeah, we won one in that stretch. Coach K is the NCAA golden boy, but he is not as squeaky clean as CBS tries to portray him. Williams, Wright, and Calhoun have been the best in college basketball over that time. They don’t get the top talent, but do coach them up to be winners. Calhoun retired, and you see what happened to that program since, even though Ollie got the best of us a couple of times.
          This year will show that top talent doesn’t equate to national championships. Duke will learn that too many alpha dogs on the same team can be counter productive, but with the Jones kid staying for a second year could be a difference maker. Solid point guard play is crucial to winning but guards can’t take the biggest share of the shots. If Hagans would work on his outside shooting, we would stand a better chance at taking it all, especially in Quickley improves his overall game. How does Maxey fit into that equation? Someone is going to be the odd man out per Quadre Green. Memphis and Washington will learn the same thing. Kids that stay and play for 3 to 4 years make for the best teams. I will be glad when the OAD nonsense is done away with.
          Michigan State and North Carolina will have the best shot at winning it all next season. KY, Duke, Memphis, Washington, Kansas, Villanova, and Auburn will all be in the conversation but will all be also rans. Tennessee will be the most notable absence in that conversation.
          Oh, Mike and I were right about McDaniels going to Washington. He will be playing with Isiah Stewart. It will be interesting to see how Quadre Green fares there. My gut says he will be somewhere close to 15 ppg and 6 apg. He could have done that for us if we had better coaching.

          1. Blah, blah, blah. We shall see. I see UK winning it all next year. Our man Calipari brings home No. 9.

  8. Pup…….at least I didn’t graduate from South Hampton Institute of Technology…good old SHIT….that’s right…you graduated with honors from Reform school.

    1. OK TROLL I can take it, because I know you are very mentally challenged. I will cut you some slack.

      I will say in my final analysis of your stupidity when it comes to UK sports that you are easily drawn in and exposed as a complete light weight. You are a marked little sissy on this blog TROLL, live with it. You brought this title on all by your gutless self. Where is the gutless Dukemandoo now for your moral support. I will take both you Duke boys on in this war of words against our UK players and coaches. He has faded from the scene of late. I hope he is not in jail. Listen to this, LIFETIME CONTRACT has such a nice ring to it for any real UK basketball fan. Calipari is the man too. Go root for Penny and Memphis hoss before you hav ae serious mental breakdown. If you think his program and recruiting prowess is far ahead of Cal’s keep up the negativity so we can expose you later. Duke is looking for a few OAD recruits now too, but Cal is kicking their A$$ time and time again. You and the Dukemandoo are complete air heads on everything happening with UK sports now. It is remarkable to see how you two put feet in mouth every time you post on VV’s. Keep up the foolishness for our laughing pleasure. Also, I suppose you will continue to support your candidate Pocahontas, but try to convince us all here on VV’s that you are a Trumper. You can’t fool a real Trump supporter, just like you can’t fool a real UK sports fan.

    2. Hey guys, let’s stick to sports discussions and no personal insults. Love your passion but let’s just avoid the personal attacks. Not what I want this to be

      1. You got it Larry V, I was just having a little fun here Larry V for my part, not serious. I will refrain from my fun. LOL’s. Thanks for the direction. VV’s is the best sports blog on the planet for everything sports, especially UK sports.

        1. Thanks Pup

      2. Thanks LV. I know I will take a lot of flack for my criticism of Calipari. He is a great guy, one of the best recruiters, and an above average coach, but he doesn’t win national titles and that is why he was brought here. Don’t let the lifetime contract fool you. He will be leaving KY in as few as 2 years, but no more than 5. He will not win another national title and that will be his Waterloo.
        Billy Donavan would be my top pick to replace him, followed by Jay Wright, but I don’t think we will get either. There are things that I don’t care for about Bruce Pearl, but he will be on the list as will Tom Izzo, but neither will take it. Steve Prohm and Mike White could be on that list, and if they are, one of them will take it if Kenny Payne doesn’t get it by default.
        I bleed blue and always will. I hate Duke, North Carolina, and Lousyville with a passion. I despise One and Done. We aren’t going to win every game, but God forbid any more embarrassments like the loss to Robert Morris and the buttwhooping we got from Duke last year. Oh, I need to add the embarrassment that Auburn laid on us in the regional with a key starter out. We aren’t going to win a national title every year, but 1 out of 20 isn’t going to cut it here. Calipari did revive the program that Billy Clyde and Tubby brought down, but Calipari doesn’t win national titles. Isn’t that what KY basketball is all about or am I the only one who has hopes of us passing UCLA in national titles won in my lifetime?

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