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Penny Hardaway’s 2023-24 team of Tigers is taking shape

Terry Davis

At the start of last week, the University of Memphis men’s basketball program had two important questions in need of answers: 

Who would play center for the 2023-24 team? 

What is the status of incoming super freshman Mickey Williams?

The answer to the center question came via a recent announcement. It’s Jordan Brown, a Roseville, CA native and McDonald’s All-American out of Prolific Prep (Napa, CA).

Jordan – listed as 6’11” center – began his career at Nevada, where he was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year. He spent the next two seasons at Arizona, followed by two seasons at Louisiana. In 2020-21, Brown was voted Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 9.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game at Arizona.

The UofM Tigers have a commitment from highly-touted Mickey Williams, however, an off-the-court issue has his availability uncertain. (Photo: FoxLifeVisuals – https://www.foxlifevisuals.com/basketball-photography, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=91747883)

Getting an answer to Williams’ status is a work in progress. He still faces charges for an incident involving a gun at a party earlier this year. The outcome of that case will determine if Williams will be with the Tigers for the tipoff of the season.

The Tigers have 12 players committed for next season and are still in the hunt to land Alabama transfer Jahvon Quinerly. Pending is star forward DeAndre Williams’ NCAA quest for another season of eligibility.

And, there is a slight chance that veteran center Malcom Dandridge will return for another run with the Tigers. Head coach Penny Hardaway has the wiggle-room option of taking his two sons off of scholarships.

The Tigers return to practice next week as they prepare for a three-game trip to the Dominican Republic from August 1-7. This will be Hardaway’s second international summer trip during his tenure at Memphis. The first was in 2018 with his first number one recruiting class.

As the upcoming season’s roster takes shape, here is a look at players that will be working toward playing time:

  • Nicholas Jourdain, a 6’ 9” 215-pound center/forward, played in 74 games for Temple, including 40 starts, over his three seasons and tallied 427 career points (5.8 avg) and 320 rebounds (4.3 avg). He recorded 94 blocked shots (1.3 avg).
  • Caleb Mills, the Florida State guard played at Houston before transferring to FSU. He finished his two-year career at FSU as the Seminoles’ all-time leader in career free throw percentage with an 84.2-percent clip (171-203).

In 2021-22, Mills led Florida State in scoring (12.7) and earned All-AAC second-team honors. As a Seminole, he started 54-of-58 games and totaled 745 points (12.8), 158 rebounds (2.7), 173 assists (3.0) and 82 steals (1.4).

  • Johnathan Pierre, who is from Nova Southeastern (Florida), is a proven winner, having just won an NCAA Division II National Championship and compiling a 67-1 record over the past two years at Nova Southeastern, said Hardaway.

“On top of bringing his championship pedigree, Jonathan is an extremely intelligent, high character and hardworking young man that embodies all of our core values.”

In 33 games, Pierre scored in double figures 27 times and reached 20-plus on six occasions. He also recorded four or more assists in 16 outings and knocked down two or more threes in 21 games.

  • Teafale Leonard joins the Tigers after playing the last two seasons at Middle Tennessee and will have two remaining years of. The 6-foot-8 wing averaged 8.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists as a sophomore for the Blue Raiders in 2022-23. He also tied his own program record with 50 dunks.

“Teafale is one of the most versatile two-way players in the country and will thrive in our pressure-filled, fast-paced style of play,” Hardaway said. “He is a phenomenal athlete who is always in attack-mode and plays with a relentless motor and has the ability to change games on both ends of the floor. His unselfishness and team-first mentality are a perfect fit within our Memphis Tiger basketball culture.”

  • Memphis has also signed David Jones (Teays Valley Christian), Jayholon Young (University of Central Florida), in addition to the five freshmen in the incoming class: Mickey Williams, J.J. Taylor, Ashton Hardaway, Carl Cherenfant and Ryan Forrest.


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