We are four days removed from the Memphis Tigers’ early exit from the 2022-2023 NCAA tournament. The optics paved the way for a clear path to the Sweet 16 and possibly the Elite 8. The East region’s number one seed, the Purdue Boilermakers, was sent packing after losing to the 16th-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson. Other top regional teams, such as Kentucky, Duke, and Providence, were eliminated. However, in last Friday’s matchup, Memphis could not put away an FAU team on the ropes more than once.
The loss to the Owls also showcased many issues that have affected the team throughout the year despite having a solid campaign from a record viewpoint. With the offseason now upon us, it’s time for the Memphis Tigers to address some key areas to continue their success in the upcoming season. Here are three areas that the team should prioritize to maintain their winning ways.
Two Playmakers that Can Fill the Void of Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams
The Tigers will have significant departures from their roster this offseason, including the loss of Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams. Both players were crucial to the team’s success last season, with Davis leading the team in points and assists and Williams being a reliable scorer and rebounder. Davis would go on to become American Athletic Conference’s all-time leading scorer with 2,292 career points.
Replacing these two players will be no easy feat, but the Tigers must find two playmakers who can fill their void. This could come in the form of a transfer or a freshman recruit, but whoever it is, they will need to have the ability to create their shot and make plays for their teammates.
An Additional Scorer Outside of the Top Contributors
Last season, the Memphis Tigers relied heavily on their top contributors, Davis and Williams, to carry the load offensively. In comparison, players like Elijah McCaden, Chandler Lawson, Johnathan lawson, and Damaria Franklin were able to produce to a certain extent. The team could benefit from another reliable scorer who can take some of the pressure off these players.
One player who could step up and become this additional scorer is Keonte Kennedy. Kennedy was establishing himself as the Tigers’ third scorer until his season ended after breaking his hand after the first matchup with Houston. Kennedy will likely return next season, but it depends on whether enough interest is generated among NBA scouts. Last year, Kennedy held a scoring percentage of 38.1%. If he can continue to develop his scoring skills and become a consistent threat from the perimeter, he could be a valuable asset to the team next season.
Solid Rim Protector
2022 was not a kind year for the Memphis Tigers in the rebound category. They finished 330th in the country in defensive rebounding. The drop-off came after center Malcolm Dandridge suffered an ankle injury in the 91-88 loss to Alabama. Memphis could get by with wins without the presence of Dandridge, but the inability to rebound effectively was evident.
Jahmar Young, a transfer from SMU, was not eligible to play because his waiver needed to be submitted in time. His size and length would have helped the Tigers significantly on the boards. At this time, it is unknown if both Dandridge and Young will return for their final season of eligibility. Expect Hardaway and the coaching staff to address this issue through the transfer portal.
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