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Saturday, May 18, 2024

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ANALYSIS: After disappointing season, where do the Tigers stand?

Tonight, an NCAA National Mens Basketball champion will be crowned.

Terry Davis

The champion will definitely be either Purdue or UConn. It will definitely NOT be the Memphis Tigers — much to everyone’s disappointment. A season that started with sizzle (an early season 10-game win streak) eventually faded with fizzle (missing the NCAA Tournament ENTIRELY), leaving more questions than answers.

Going into the offseason, Penny Hardaway knew he would have to rebuild his roster due to the limited number of players eligible to return next season and players entering the transfer portal.

The final roster won’t be set until later in the spring after all the players who’ve declared for the NBA withdraw their names and return to college.

One of those players is David Jones. If Jones decides to return to college, the Memphis roster will be built around him. Hardaway has already landed two key commitments for next season. The first is a transfer from Tulsa, P.J. Haggerty. The 6-foot-3-inch point guard from Crosby, Texas, will be important to the team’s success.

He averaged 21 points and 3.8 assists per game. He should be able to work with the team this summer to learn the offense and be the coach on the floor for the Tigers. He played in the ACC the last two seasons and will have two seasons of eligibility left.

Dain Dainja, the 6-foot-9-inch center, played for the University of Illinois last season and the Baylor Bears the year prior. He averaged 6.1 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game. His role will be as a rim protector and physical force inside. He is from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

Nicholas Jourdain with the big block. (William Weeks/Tri-State Defender)

The Tigers will have Nicholas Jourdain, the transfer from Temple, and walk-ons Joe Cooper and Noah Stansberry returning from this season. Cooper made an impact late in the season with his contributions, and Jourdain was a solid contributor all season.

Three players have departed the team: Jayhlon Young, Carl Cherenfant, and Ashton Hardaway have all entered the transfer portal. The portal will be open until mid-May. It’s possible that some of those players may return this season.

Hardaway has said on multiple occasions that he would like his roster intact by at least August to develop chemistry among the new players. Last season, chemistry, and not talent, was the reason for how the season ended.

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