It’s almost that time again for Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball. The program head’s into a new year with excitement after qualifying for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014. Memphis closed the regular season by winning 10 out of their last 11 games. Those victories, combined with an impressive outing during the AAC tournament, allowed the Tigers to qualify for an NCAA tournament berth. They defeated Boise State in the tournament’s first round but fell short to Gonzaga in the next matchup.
Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway decided to avoid building the roster loaded with young four and five-star prospects. Instead, he utilized the transfer portal to assemble a squad of veteran talent. The Tigers got the country’s number one transfer portal prospect when Kendric Davis decided to commit to the program in April. Davis is no stranger to the Tigers or the AAC. Before joining Memphis, he was a member of the SMU Mustangs. In his final year with the SMU, Davis led the conference in scoring by averaging 19.5 points per game, third with 4.6 assists, and third by hitting 45.2% on all field goals. Those accolades allowed him to win the AAC’s Player of the Year award for 2021-2022.
Along with adding Davis, the Tigers added veteran talents such as Keonte Kennedy, Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu, Elijah McCaden, Damaria Franklin, Emmanuel Akot, and Jahmar Young. Each transfer player listed brings a unique skill set to the current team. But here’s the caveat: Young and Franklin have eligibility issues that have not been resolved. Regarding departures, players such as Landers Nolley lll and Tyler Harris entered the transfer portal. Nolley joined the Cincinnati Bearcats, while Harris became a member of the South Florida Bulls. Lester Quinones and Jalen Duren decided to take their talents to the NBA. Akot only lasted a few months with the program after being flipped by Western Kentucky.
Projected Starting Five
PG: Kendric Davis
SG: Keonte Kennedy
SF: Johnathan Lawson
PF: DeAndre Williams
C: Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu
Projected Outlook: NCAA Tournament (Sweet 16)
History has shown us that in the current landscape of college basketball, veteran-laden teams have been able to make deep runs in the NCAA tournament. Those teams may not have talent bound for the NBA, but their veteran experience in big moments has always shown success against some of college basketball’s best programs. Can Memphis follow the same path? It’s highly possible. A strong outing in the AAC should propel them for another NCAA tournament berth. Standing in their way will be a Houston Cougars team projected to be one of the best in the country. The Tigers swept the Cougars in both regular season matchups last year.
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