The most anticipated preseason basketball games in a very long time occurred on an island more than 1,600 miles away.
Some of that anticipation was tempered when fans learned that top recruits James Wiseman wouldn’t play because of injury and Precious Achiuwa would not travel because of a visa issue.
ESPN has decided not to show the games on any of their platforms. The University had decided not to stream the game. It appeared that the first time the number one recruiting class would not be seen by the masses in Memphis.
But Jimmy Davenport, a devout Tigers basketball fan talked to Head Coach Penny Hardaway and got permission to stream the games live. Davenport live streams were so successful that he received over 7,000 friend requests and more than 5,000 people watched the live stream of the first game live and thousands more rewatched that game and the three other games that he showed live.
Not an optimal way to watch, but here’s what we learned about America’s No. 1 recruiting class.
DJ Jeffries stood out
Wiseman and Achiuwa out, D.J. Jeffries made his presence known. Jeffries averaged 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds and had two double-doubles. How Hardaway constructs his starting rotation will determine how Jeffries will be used, but he certainly showed he can contribute. If Hardaway’s lineup is more guard-oriented, Jeffries may be the first off the bench.
Lester Quinones will be noticed
The buzz around social media leading up to the first game public appearance has been the very short-shorts of Quinones. Lester has been seen often with a 2019 designer fanny pack that is worn over the shoulder. Quinones has been a very fashioned conscious person so far.
On the court Quinones has been dazzling everyone with his great shooting and lockdown defense. Lester was one of the better and more consistent outside shooters during the tournament. Quinones has taken up the banner in the Memphis vs Tennessee feud.
Admiral Schofield, the former Tennessee Vols basketball star, tweeted about the Memphis and UT game last season and Lester invited him to see the game.
Making Believers out of the Haters
Without their top two players, it was conceivable that the Tigers could maybe lose a game or two. The Tigers quickly eliminated that in the second quarter of the first game. The only true test the Tigers had was when the played the Bahamian National Basketball team. That team beat Texas Tech earlier in the week.
Former player and current Sacramento King Buddy Hield had an up close look and the Tigers and he was very impressed by the guard play of the Tigers. Many other people who had a chance to watch the games came away very impressed by the very young but experienced Tigers.
Sometimes it’s good to leave them wanting more. With the absence of the two potential first-round picks in next year’s NBA draft, it is possible the faithful basketball followers can expect more for the next public appearance of the Tigers. That next appearance will be in early October for Tiger Madness.
Check out the highlights, postgame remarks and off-the-court scenes from the Memphis Tigers excursion to The Bahamas!