Penny Hardaway Could Replace Tubby Smith at Memphis

Tubby Smith’s time at Memphis may be coming to an end. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish reported that the University of Memphis is considering replacing Smith with former Memphis star, Penny Hardaway. Hardaway, a former four-time NBA All-Star, attended Memphis for three years and has his number retired by the school. He is currently the head coach at Memphis East High School, and runs the Team Penny AAU program.

The move isn’t exactly shocking, or far fetched to consider. Smith has posted a 38-25 record at Memphis is two season and, unless the miraculously win the AAC Tournament this week, will have missed the NCAA Tournament both years. Adding insult to injury, Smith was unable to keep players in-house after his first season. After Smith’s first year, Memphis saw six players transfer from the program. Five were former Top 100 prospects. As a coach, not winning is bad, not retaining players is worse. It’s not a shock to hear Memphis is considering change.

As for Hardaway, the school’s decision to hire a former NBA player would be different than some of the hirings we’ve seen recently. Unlike Chris Mullin at St. John’s, or even Patrick Ewing at Georgetown, Hardaway is familiar with the recruiting world. He knows what needs to be done at the college level. Ewing had NBA coaching experience, sure, but that doesn’t prepare you for the legwork that recruiting requires. Hardaway gets it.

Being active both as a high school coach, and on the AAU circuit, Hardaway knows how much time and effort it takes to recruit at the college level. Especially at a program like Memphis. His ties run deep within the state. At East Memphis, Hardaway coaches James Wiseman, the #1 ranked player in the Class of 2019, according to ESPN. Team Penny is regarded as one of the top Nike EYBL programs, made up of some of the best players in the country. Hardaway has already built a relationship with these players and it could jumpstart the recruiting process at Memphis.

Additionally, it is reported that Hardaway would consider bringing Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown on as an assistant. Adding Brown’s deep coaching history to his staff would only benefit a first time NCAA coach. Brown spoke very highly of Hardaway, saying there is no man better for the Memphis job than him.

Smith still has three years and a lot of money left on his deal, so Memphis may not want to part ways with him just yet. After the fallout they had with Josh Pastner, buying out another coach two years later is not a good look for an Athletic Director. If they do decide to do so, however, they have their man waiting. He’s active in the high school landscape already, could have a Hall of Fame assistant on his staff, and is the perfect representation of Memphis Basketball.

Cole Swider – HG Insider Player Spotlight

cole swider

Villanova commit Cole Swider shined at the Oladipo Skills Academy with his elite shooting ability. Swider is coming off a breakout AAU season with BABC. Other schools he was considering were Duke, Xavier and Syracuse. Swider showed what makes him such an intriguing prospect and why he was such a priority for Jay Wright and his staff. Swider led his team at camp in scoring, where he has made his biggest mark on the grassroots scene. He made a statement at the Nike Peach Jam as he averaged 23.2 points per game. Swider is intriguing as he is talented enough to make an impact right away for the Wildcats. He has done a great job showing that he is more than just a shooter this season. Swider is able to get into the lane and create for himself and his teammates because of his improved ball handling.

Swider was flying under the radar prior to this AAU season, but stepped up on the Nike EYBL circuit for BABC and his stock skyrocketed. He has been great during the July live period and seems to only be taking his game to a higher level as this season has progressed. The next step for Swider will be to bring home a NEPSAC “AA” championship for St. Andrew’s. He has played with a lot of confidence and will head into next high school season with a lot of momentum. They will heavily rely on him, but he has shown that he is more than capable of leading a team. The Villanova Wildcats got a great one in Cole Swider and it could be an even bigger get than people realize with the way he has played this summer. Swider is an excellent prospect and is yet another one to watch this high school season.

Noah Locke- HG Insider Player Spotlight

noah locke

McDonogh School’s Noah Locke is currently the 80th ranked player in the class of 2018. His recruitment has been on the steady incline ever since his freshman season. Like most to-be seniors, this summer is a giant one for Locke.

Locke showed what all of the buzz around his name is about at the Oladipo Skills Academy. On Wednesday night Locke found a way to score the ball consistently against some of the top players in the nation. Locke’s jumper was definitely on display, but he was able to do a lot of damage off the bounce as well. The rising senior spoke on his experience at camp.

“I have to play to the hype with me having a lot of schools contacting and offering me,” said Locke. “There’s a target on my back so I need to work even harder now.”

He has established himself as one of the best shooters in his class. Locke is an exciting player to watch with his ability to score in bunches. He helped lead Team Melo to a Peach Jam berth in their first year on the 17u circuit. He added a blue-blood offer in Kansas recently and is garnering more attention with his recruitment. Michigan, Providence and others are also making Locke a priority. For the next level, Locke will need to find a place with the right system and he then he should be able to succeed on a big stage. He was one of the leading scorers on the Nike EYBL circuit with 18.2 points per game. Locke also put these big numbers efficiently as he shot 51 percent from the field. Locke is definitely a fun player to watch and has a good head on his shoulders. He will look to finish his high school career at the McDonogh School with a bang, which he is more than capable of doing. Locke is someone to track on the grassroots scene as he is progressing at a rapid pace and his recruitment continues to blossom.