In the 2022-2023 season, the Memphis Tigers embarked on a journey with fans brimming with optimism. It was year five of the Penny Hardaway era, and the program had shown promising signs of growth. One of the pivotal moves of the offseason was the addition of Kendric Davis, the 2021-2022 AAC Player of the Year, via the transfer portal. Davis became a game-changer by joining a roster already laden with experienced talent. The tandem of Davis and power forward DeAndre Williams would go on to captivate college basketball enthusiasts, emerging as one of the sport’s most dynamic duos.
The Tigers rode this newfound synergy to clinch their first-ever AAC conference title, marking a significant milestone since its inception in 2014. With the AAC crown secured, optimism reached new heights, with many pundits labeling the Tigers as dark horse contenders for a coveted Final Four spot. The roster possessed the essential components for a successful run in the current landscape of college basketball.
As they entered the tournament, the Tigers were seeded 8th, setting the stage for an intriguing matchup against the Florida Atlantic Owls in the first round. However, the Cinderella story was cut short as Memphis fell to the Owls in a nail-biting contest, with a final score of 66-65.
Despite the tournament setback, the Tigers concluded the season with a commendable 26-9 record, their AAC title a prominent jewel in their resume. Now, as we look ahead to the 2023-2024 season, let’s delve into the future of Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball.
The conclusion of last season’s NCAA tournament saw the Memphis Tigers facing not just the disappointment of an early exit but also a substantial exodus of talent from their roster. The departures took various forms, from players exhausting their eligibility to others declaring for the NBA Draft or venturing into the ever-active transfer portal. It was a challenging offseason, as Coach Penny Hardaway was tasked with replenishing a roster that had achieved remarkable success in the prior season.
Coach Hardaway, known for his proactive approach, wasted no time addressing these departures. He orchestrated the acquisition of eight new players through the transfer portal alone, each bringing their unique skills and potential to the Tigers’ fold. Among these additions are notable talents such as Caleb Mills, Jordan Brown, Jahvon Quinerly, and Jaykwon Walton, all poised to assume critical roles in the upcoming season.
However, the Tigers’ transformation doesn’t stop with transfers. The program also introduces talented freshmen, including Ashton Hardaway, Carl Cherenfant, and JJ Taylor, each harboring the potential to make significant contributions. As the program gears up for the 2023-2024 season, these newcomers add an exciting dimension to the team’s prospects.
In addition to bolstering the player roster, the Tigers have made a strategic coaching move by bringing on board recruiting wizard Rick Stansbury. Stansbury, who previously served as the head coach at Western Kentucky, joins the coaching staff, adding his wealth of experience and expertise to the mix. His presence promises to elevate the Tigers’ recruiting efforts and overall program development as they set their sights on the season ahead.
We’re still waiting for word if DeAndre Williams will be granted another year of eligibility for the upcoming 2023-2024 campaign. The star forward found out that he was given bad advice concerning his eligibility during his time with Evansville. The school deemed Williams academically ineligible, which led to him not seeing a year of playing time with the program. However, if Williams can return to the program, it will only enhance a roster already upgraded at numerous positions.
Projected Starting Five
PG: Jahvon Quinerly
SG: Caleb Mills
SF: David Jones
PF: Jaykwon Walton
C: Jordan Brown
Projected Outlook: NCAA Tournament (Elite 8)
In assessing the potential of the Memphis Tigers Men’s Basketball Program for the upcoming 2023-2024 season, it becomes evident that this team has all the ingredients to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. We firmly believe that an Elite 8 appearance, and possibly even a coveted spot in the Final Four, are within their grasp.
The reason we’ve projected Memphis as an Elite 8 contender lies in the composition of their roster. With a blend of experienced veterans and promising newcomers, the Tigers have the personnel capable of making waves in the tournament. Key additions such as Caleb Mills, Jordan Brown, Jahvon Quinerly, Jaykwon Walton, and the returning talent create a dynamic and well-rounded squad.
As we look ahead to the season, it’s clear that the Tigers’ path to a third consecutive tournament berth will hinge on their performance against out-of-conference opponents and their journey within the AAC. Notably, the landscape of the conference has shifted due to realignment, with former heavyweight the Houston Cougars, as well as UCF and Cincinnati, departing for the Big 12 Conference. While this alters the conference dynamics, Memphis will still face a formidable challenge in the form of the Florida Atlantic Owls.
FAU, now a member of the AAC, is intimately familiar with the Tigers, thanks to their memorable matchup in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Ranked at No. 10 in the AP Top 25 Coaches Poll, the Owls are a potential stumbling block for Memphis. Both games against FAU loom large on this season’s tournament journey, and their outcomes could significantly impact the Tigers’ postseason prospects.
In summary, the Memphis Tigers enter the 2023-2024 season with the potential and the pieces necessary for a deep tournament run. The Elite 8 is well within their reach, and their ability to navigate the challenges presented by FAU and other formidable opponents will be the defining factor in their pursuit of NCAA tournament success.
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