First -year Tigers Coach Penny Hardaway received a hero’s welcome during his first Memphis Madness on Oct. 4, 2018. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)
Terry Davis

The wait is almost over.

The University of Memphis Tigers basketball team will debut to the public this week, when the Tigers host their annual Memphis Madness event at FedExForum. Tickets for the event went on sale days ago, but the lower bowl sold out within hours.

Tiger Nation wants to know who will perform at Memphis Madness on Oct 3. Head coach Penny Hardaway shut down any indication of who (or even IF) anyone will be performing at this year’s event.

Last year’s Madness took heat for not shooting down rumors about which acts would perform. The doors did not open until 6 p.m. last year for a 7 p.m. start time. Although all the seats were already assigned the building was nearly full just minutes after the doors were opened to the public.

But that may not matter, because the true star power is on Hardaway’s bench. Headlined by projected one-and-done players James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa, the Tiger have the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation. Madness will be a coming out party for these two, who did not play in the Tiger’s Bahama’s Excursion in August.

Team practices are not open to the public. But some with access indicate that Damion Baugh has been very impressive. The Nashville native played last season at Tennessee Prep and was not highly hyped, but observers expect him to break out.

“Damion is special,” Hardaway said. “He is a guy that picks up 94 feet. He might be our best defensive guard outside of Alex Lomax. He understands the game. He passes the ball well and he has a high basketball IQ.”

The Tigers will host two exhibitions this season against local colleges. The first will be against Christian Brothers on October 10. The second will be against Lemoyne-Owen on Monday October 28. Both games tipoff at 7 p.m.

Now in his second season, Hardaway has measured his words more closely so far this season. Last season, a media session with Hardaway could easily create instant headlines. Last year’s Tigers were a veteran-based team with Jeremiah Martin. But for all its hype and talent, Hardaway’s team is also young and inexperienced.

“We have a lot of young kids,” Hardaway said in remarks Tuesday. “No one has emerged as being the leader or who will be dominant on both ends of the floor. We will have to wait and see.”

Though the roster has changed, Hardaway promises that Memphis’ preparation will be the same as it was last year.

“We feel like we have added a lot of talent. We are not going to change a ton, but we have to change a little due to the guys are younger,” he said. “We are going to stick to our same game plan and be ready to go to war.”