Friday, May 17, 2019

Precious! Memphis Secures Top Recruiting Class in the Country

Posted By on Fri, May 17, 2019 at 12:15 PM

"We want to win a national title. I don't think that's far-fetched. That drives me."

Penny Hardaway shared those sentiments with me before the start of his first season as basketball coach at the University of Memphis. The interview would inform a feature in which Memphis magazine named Hardaway its 2018 Memphian of the Year. (Yes, we named him MOY before he coached his first college game. Any questions about that now?) Hardaway did not say in that interview, "We want to win a national title in 2020."
click to enlarge Penny Hardaway, recruiting king. - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Penny Hardaway, recruiting king.

He might say that today.

With Precious Achiuwa's announcement Friday (via social media) that he will play at the U of M, Hardaway has landed the top-ranked recruiting class in the country. Along with James Wiseman — the top-ranked player in the country, a center who starred at East High School for Hardaway — Achiuwa gives Memphis a pair of five-star recruits for the first time since Joe Jackson and Will Barton arrived on campus as part of Josh Pastner's second recruiting class in 2010.

But the five-stars have a supporting cast. Forwards Malcolm Dandridge (another East product) and D.J. Jeffries have been signed for weeks, along with Tennessee Prep guard Damion Baugh. Guard Lester Quinones committed to Hardaway a week ago (which may have clinched Achiuwa, the two having played together for years) and Boogie Ellis signed on the blue-and-gray line earlier this week. All five players are considered four-star recruits by Rivals.

Achiuwa's commitment pushes Memphis above Kentucky, Arizona, and Duke to number-one in the national rankings, according to 247Sports. When you add up the numbers, fully 10 percent of the country's top 50 recruits (according to Rivals) are coming to play for Hardaway at Memphis. In order: Wiseman (1), Achiuwa (17), Ellis (37), Quinones (48), and Jeffries (50).

I recently asked someone close to Hardaway how he has reacted with the serial signings of superstars. Excitement? Delight? Does he consider this normal? The description I received: "Supreme confidence."

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