The University of Memphis has recently made a splash in the coaching department. They got rid of the coach who no one in the city of Memphis liked, Tubby Smith, and hired a fan favorite Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.
At the start of the Tubby Smith era, Memphis fans were excited. Everyone here in the city was so excited to get the soon-to-be hall of fame coach help lead them back to the top of the American Athletic Conference (AAC). That feeling of excitement dropped very fast. Tubby would not listen to the coaches assistant, Keelon Lawson, who happened to be the father of two players on the team, Dedric and KJ Lawson. This made Keelon mad and he took his kids and transferred to Kansas to play ball. Memphis fans were outraged and to top it off, Smith seemed to not care that anyone was mad about what had taken place – or, his lack of interest in recruiting the talent from the Memphis, a die-hard basketball city.
Just when things were at their darkest for the Tigers, only having a 40-26 record over the two years under Tubby Smith and missing the NIT in back to back seasons. Here comes the talk of Penny Hardaway becoming the Tigers’ head coach and fans lit up at the idea. It was the talk of the town. Then this gossip became a reality. It was official. The hometown legend, former Memphis State standout and NBA veteran was named the new head basketball coach of the Memphis Tigers.
The hire for Memphis is obviously a GOOD hire, but there is one thing that makes this a GREAT hire, and that is recruiting. Penny has connections all over the nation. He played for Memphis and the Orlando Magic, not to mention he has been the head coach for a great AAU team, Team Penny, and the head coach of Memphis East High School. At East, Penny lead this team to three straight state titles and has some of the best high school players in the nation, which has helped his team to become the number one high school team, in America, this season.
Within hours of this hire, there was a massive recruiting move. The four-star point guard from Memphis East High School, Penny’s old team, Alex Lomax, got his signed letter of intent released from Wichita State. This was obviously done for Lomax to be free to go to Memphis and that is probably where he will end up playing for. Especially since Penny has been coaching Alex since middle school.
This massive splash has helped the city of Memphis become excited about Tiger basketball once again. Who knows if we will see another Derrick Rose come in or a new Penny Hardaway? But wouldn’t it be great to find out? Keep your eyes on the city of Memphis, along with the Tigers. Just watch the Penny Effect happen.