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Hardaway: “Sam Mitchell is not a part of” Memphis Tigers any longer

There is a vacancy on the Memphis Tigers basketball coaching staff.

According to the Head Coach Penny Hardaway, Sam Mitchell, the former NBA Head Coach who came down to the collegiate level at Hardaway’s request, is no longer with the program.

“Sam Mitchell is not a part of this team,” Hardaway said. “Sam has decided to go in a different direction.”

Rumors around Mitchell’s status had been circulating around the city. The rumors took on a different edge after Mitchell appeared on The Bill Rhoden podcast over the weekend.

“I’m doing some things,” Mitchell told Rhoden when asked about his year with the Tigers. “I am investing in some Tex-Mex restaurants called Barbarosa. Then I’m doing some other things. I’m going to Milwaukee to do (color commentary for) the Bucks and Raptors series for TSN.”

Noticeably absent from Mitchell’s response: any mention of a future with the Tigers, including the banner class of recruits set to play in Memphis this fall.

Earlier Tuesday, Hardaway mentioned Mitchell as a member of the team on ESPN’s Outside the Lines. Later in the day, however Hardaway confirmed that Mitchell would not be a part of the team going forward.

Possible replacements

Hardaway said that he would like a permanent replacement in place by June 3, when all the players will be in school for the summer session. Every player who has committed is expected to enroll for the first summer term.

When Hardaway was first named head coach of the Tigers, he received calls from many coaching prospects trying to be on his staff. Now that he has No. 1 recruiting class in the country, even more are likely to come calling.

Former NBA coach Larry Brown was mentioned, but Hardaway quickly shot that down. Three names of NBA assistant coaches may be in the mix for the opening. Miles Simon of the Los Angeles Lakers and former Grizzlies coaches Greg Buckner and Nick Van Exel.

Van Exel and Hardaway are very close. Van Exel played for the University of Cincinnati and was on the bench for the last two Grizzlies head coaches. He and Hardaway also played against one another in college.

Simon not only has coached in the NBA, he had a short NBA career. He also has been involved on the AAU circuit. Hardaway would like to continue to recruit on a national level in addition to keeping the best local talent in town.

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