Penny Hardaway, Memphis Tigers, AAC Basketball

The punishment has come down on the Memphis Tigers but does not prevent Coach Penny Hardaway and his team from the postseason.

 

CBB Review is once again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the 2022-23 season. Each day we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Coming in ranked number 37 are the Memphis.

The Memphis Tigers and head coach Penny Hardaway are taking a deep breath after not being found in violation of NCAA rules. IARP handed down a fine, vacated of games played with Wiseman, and three years of probation. This is an excellent outcome, as the Tigers will be able to compete in postseason play.

After making it to the NCAA tournament, the Tigers were able to beat Boise but fell short after dominating the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the first half. However, this Memphis team will look very different, with players moving into professional careers in the NBA and overseas. Other players hope for more playing time or opportunities in the transfer portal.

One of the faces you will see for the Memphis Tigers is one that the fans are used to seeing in Kendric Davis. This is one of the many new faces, but the more surprising fact is the veteran players that Coach Hardaway is bringing in a lot of upperclassmen to help his team. This is set to be a big year for the Memphis Tigers if this team can gel and keep their games and names out of it. Coach Hardaway showed he could get you to a professional career if you play your part.

To those who have not, click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2022-23 college basketball season.

Head Coach: Penny Hardaway (5th season with Memphis)

2021-2022 Record: 22-11 (13-5)

2022 Postseason Finish: NCAA Tournament Round of 32 Exit

Notable Departures: Earl Timberlake (Transfer/Bryant), Emoni Bates (Transfer/Eastern Michigan), Jalen Duren (NBA/Pistons), Josh Minott (NBA/Minnesota), Landers Nolley (Transfer/Cincinnati), Lester Quinones (NBA/Golden State), Sam Onu (Transfer/FGCU), Tyler Harris (Transfer/USF), John Camden (Transfer to Virginia Tech)

Projected Rotation:

PG: Alex Lomax (6-0, 190, Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 6.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists

SG: Kendric Davis (5-11, 180, Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 19.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.5 steals (SMU)

SF: Keonte Kennedy (6-5, 180, Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 14.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.8 steals (UTEP)

PF: DeAndre Williams (6-9, 190, Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 11.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals

C: Malcolm Dandridge (6-9, 232, Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 4.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 53.9 FG%

6: Elijah McCadden (6-4, 210, Gr.-Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 11.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 steals (Georgia Southern)

7: Damaria Franklin (6-5, 205, Gr.-Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 17.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.9 blocks (UIC)

8: Jayden Hardaway (6-5, 195, Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 2.9 points, 1.0 rebounds (UIC)

9: Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu (6-9, 190, Sr.)

2021-22 stats:  4.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, 67.4 FG% (UT Arlington)

10: Jahmar Young (6-9, 190, Rs.-Sr.)

2021-2022 stats: 2.0 points, 1.7 rebounds, 67.9 FG% (SMU)

11: Chandler Lawson (6-8, 220, Sr.)

2021-22 stats: 1.6 points, 2.2 rebounds

Team MVP: Kendric Davis

The crown Jewel of the Memphis Tiger’s team. Kendric Davis brings experience on both ends of the floor. He is one of the most consistent players in college basketball, and with the other weapons on this team, being the primary focus will hurt defenses hoping to take him away. Kendric Davis has been the offense for SMU in the past. He can score, create shots for himself and others, create space, and has a high basketball IQ. While he is unselfish, he can also take over a game, and having talent surrounding him is a massive boost.

Last year’s AAC player of the year, he was the leading scorer for SMU and the AAC, averaging 19.4 points per game. He also tied for third in assists, second in free throw percentage, and third in field goal percentage. While this will be much more difficult, Davis is set to be a massive leader for this team.

Make-or-Break-Player: Keonte Kennedy

Talk about talent. Keonte Kennedy transferred from Xavier after a year to be thrown into a starting role for UTEP. He got better as he let the game come to him. Kennedy has a nose for the ball as he fights for rebounds on both ends of the floor and breaks up lanes. This is a player that Coach Hardaway loves. He has a solid defensive understanding. Memphis Tigers will remain a defense team. First, Kennedy fits that mold, but the hope is he can be the replacement for Quinones. The worry for him is how he will do in going to a more robust talent pool. Being a strong player, it will be interesting to see how Kennedy does in a stronger conference.
The meshing of the team and Kennedy’s scoring ability seemed to come more fluid last year. The worry is that this won’t keep up, as it was a significant jump in 3-point shooting percentage. Kennedy started shooting more 3-pointers last season, and if this continues could be a massive help for this offense. He will likely be thrust into a leadership role as he has a strong work ethic. Kennedy also has the versatility and work ethic that has earned him a starting role.

Analytic to Know: 351st in turnover percentage in 2021-22

Quite the issue for the Memphis Tigers. This team was prone to coughing up the ball in critical situations. While Alex Lomax is the team leader in turnovers, he was followed closely by freshmen Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren. The hope is that this number will drop significantly with a more experienced and mature team. Turning the ball over almost 16 times, a game made it very difficult for the Tigers to have any rhythm.

I think this will focus on Coach Hardaway’s team and staff. I believe this team is a little older than it has been in the past. Getting this team to gel and learning each other’s rhythm will significantly help. With the addition of more ball handlers, this team will need to trust each other, come to the ball, and let the game come to them to reduce their turnovers.

Team Outlook

After a couple of exhibition games, the Memphis Tigers launce straight into its resume-building schedule. On November 7, the team will travel to Vanderbilt, the next week to Saint Louis, and back home to host VCU. The Tigers then participate in the ESPN Event Invitational. This tournament has Florida State, Nebraska, OU, Seton Hall, Siena, and Stanford in Orlando, Florida. Memphis will start with Seton Hall, an opportunity to play Nebraska or OU. Memphis Tigers continue to have great matchups that could be staples on their resume in Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama, and Texas A&M. This team will end its nonconference schedule with Alabama State and its conference schedule against Cincinnati, SMU, and Houston.

Coach Hardaway continues to land great opponents and has built a potentially challenging schedule. With one of the most demanding schedules in the AAC, the Memphis Tigers and Coach Hardaway have a long and challenging road.

Projected Conference Finish: 2nd in the American Athletic Conference

Projected Postseason Finish: NCAA Tournament Round of 64 Exit

Ceiling: NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Exit

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