Prized recruit Jalen Duren has decided to roll with Penny Hardaway and the University of Memphis Tigers.
Terry Davis

It has been a busy summer for University of Memphis’ head basketball coach Penny Hardaway and the Tigers. 

For the last two months, Hardaway has been sailing through national waves. 

The first wave was Hardaway’s consideration of leaving the U of M to pursue an NBA head coach position.

Hardaway eventually decided to remain with Memphis, plus he accomplished his long-sought goal to hire legendary college and NBA coach Larry Brown.

Hardaway wanted to bring Brown on board with his original staff four years ago, but he was rebuffed by the administration.  

The second wave was the Aug. 6 announcement by highly touted, five-star recruit Jalen Duren that he was coming to Memphis.

Duren is the No. 1 prospect in the nation according to Rivals. With Duren’s signing, Memphis now has the fifth-best recruiting class in the country for 2021-22 per 247Sports.

“Jalen is an unbelievable talent and he is an even better person,” Hardaway said. “We are extremely happy to have him in a Tigers’ uniform.”

Duren played last season at Montverde Academy in Florida, where he helped the squad to the 2021 High School Nationals championship. He averaged 14.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 62.9 percent from the floor. 

He averaged 12.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in three games at Nationals and had nine points and nine rebounds in the title game.

Former Tiger and current Toronto Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa also suited up for Montverde Academy.

Duren excelled on this year’s summer circuit, helping Team Final to the Nike Peach Jam Championship. 

Duren had 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots in the championship game over Brad Beal Elite. He played 15 games with Team Final in July and contributed 13.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.

The fireworks may not be over for Hardaway. It is widely believed that Hardaway will name former NBA All-Star Rasheed Wallace to fill the team’s remaining coaching vacancy.

Wallace currently coaches on the AAU circuit and was in Memphis earlier this summer for the Allen Iverson Classic. Hardaway appeared on Wallace’s podcast earlier this summer.  

Hardaway also is in the hunt for Emoni Bates, a top-rated four-star guard, who was rated the number two player in the class of 2022. Bates reclassified to the class of 2021.