Penny Hardaway, Memphis Tigers

Jonathan Pierre gives the Memphis Tigers a guard with unique skillsets at his size.


Jonathan Pierre, a 6-10 guard from Hallandale, FL, had just one scholarship offer coming out of high school. That lone offer was to play at Nova Southeastern University, a Division II school located just a few miles north of Pierre’s hometown. Fast forward two years later and Pierre is no longer that high school kid who was once overlooked. Now, his name is more than on the map after averaging 14.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 3.4 APG for a team that went 36-0 and won the 2023 Division II National Championship.

Earlier this month, Pierre announced his entrance into the transfer portal and he quickly became one of the most sought-after players available. Over 120 schools contacted the star guard within the first 24 hours, a process Pierre described as hectic, but something that was also a blessing to him.

“You can’t look at it and be stressed out. I looked at it as an opportunity that God blessed me with to be in this situation,” said Pierre.

Duke, North Carolina, Auburn, Louisville, LSU and a plethora of other high majors reached out to Pierre, but one school really stood out to him; the Memphis Tigers. When I asked him why he ultimately chose Memphis, he said “Just the overall connection with the coaching staff, with everything going on in college basketball it’s hard to find good, genuine people like that. Just going on my visit, talking to them on Zoom, being able to hear from Penny Hardaway who is a legend in my eyes, to get to learn from him and have all these resources at my disposal. Really to just be around a basketball city like Memphis; I knew in my heart that this was the place for me.” 

How does Jonathan Pierre fit with the Memphis Tigers?

Pierre will fit in perfectly with the style of play that Penny Hardaway’s team has exhibited in the last couple of seasons. The Tigers were top 20 nationally last year in both scoring (79.4 PPG) and pace of play (nearly 75 possessions per 40 minutes). Pierre is used to playing in a fast-paced, high-scoring system, as his Nova Southeastern Sharks scored 100 or more points on 20 occasions last year, highlighted by a ridiculous 153-point outing against Florida Memorial.

In my interview with Pierre, I wanted to know what he thought would be the most important thing he’ll bring to the table when he arrives in Memphis, and his answer said it all. “Things like worrying about scoring and stuff, that’s not me- one of the expectations I have coming in is to be the hardest worker on the team- late nights in the gym, early mornings, being the first person into practice and the last to leave. Memphis will expect a hard-working kid that understands how to win and wants to buy into whatever the coaches have for us. I’m a winner and I love paying attention to detail.”

The intangibles of work ethic and leadership are things that can’t be coached, and that veteran presence will be needed with Memphis losing two All-AAC performers in Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams. Look for Pierre to provide just that.

What Are Jonathan Pierre’s Strengths?

Pierre is an exceptional shooter and has the ability to play nearly every position on the floor, making him a nightmare to match up with. He has tremendous size for a guard at 6 ’10’’ and can beat you off the dribble or extend his shooting range out to the NBA 3-point line and beyond. He showed last season that he can hit shots from the perimeter with regularity, connecting on 64 3-pointers at a 40.5% rate. He is an 82.6% free throw shooter in his career thus far and has got to the line often, attempting over 100 free throws last season. Pierre can blow by bigger defenders with his quickness and handle but isn’t afraid to let the game come to him with his vision and the playmaking ability of a point forward. Last season he scored in double figures 27 times but also averaged 3.4 APG and had a career-high 10 assists against Rollins College. 

Pierre is a ‘do-it-all’ type of player, he has shown he can grab a rebound and push the ball the length of the court, he can play off the ball and thrive as a spot-up shooter, and he’s very active on the defensive end. He plays a role that a lot of the best college basketball teams have hit on in their recruiting, which is finding that point forward caliber player that can either set up the offense or have the offense run through them, and also have the ability to match up with multiple positions on the defensive end. All-American Brandon Miller at Alabama, Andre Jackson of UConn, and Miami’s Jordan Miller are just a few recent examples.

Overall Fit Grade & Final Thoughts


Pierre is a great addition to the Tigers, with his versatility and winning mindset he will fit right in with a team that is trying to re-establish itself as one of the premier programs in the country. Pierre complements the Tigers’ roster on both ends of the floor, he will space the offensive end and create driving lanes for the guards. On the defensive end, his footwork and agility at that size to guard multiple positions, coupled with his length at the rim, will cause problems for the opposition. 

Pierre’s Nova Southeastern team went 67-1 over the last two seasons, and he told me he’s looking forward to bringing that winning spirit with him to Memphis. “It’s an attitude- every single game, every single practice, every single weight room session; how you meditate, what you eat, you have to do everything as a whole to become a champion.”

That winning pedigree he’ll bring with him is something any coach in the country would love to have. Memphis has been to the NCAA Tournament each of the last two seasons, but the goal now is to assemble the right pieces to advance past the opening weekend for the first time since 2009, and landing Jonathan Pierre through the transfer portal is a step in the right direction.

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