Memphis men’s basketball coach Penny Hardaway has been busy at work this summer, re-tooling his coaching staff ahead of the 2021 regular season. However, he made his biggest splash by landing a top recruit on Wednesday.
Emoni Bates, the nation’s No. 4 overall recruit, who re-classified to the class of 2021, announced that he would attend the University of Memphis earlier on Wednesday evening. He’ll join a talented young roster and a unique, but experienced coaching staff that’s determined to vault the Tigers back to national prominence.
Bates, a 6-foot-8 forward, was named the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year after averaging 33.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game for Lincoln High School during the 2019-20 season. He played his final high school year at Ypsi Prep Academy and announced his decision to re-classify in early August after originally committing to Michigan State.
With Bates now on the way to Memphis, Hardaway has nabbed his second five-star recruit in the class of 2021. Jalen Duran, who also re-classified, announced his decision to join the Tigers earlier this year. With both players headed to Memphis, Hardaway boasts the No. 5 overall ranked recruiting class in the nation and the school could be on its way to preseason top-5 designation.
As a result of Bates’ commitment, the world of college basketball can’t wait to see what the Tigers look like when they take the court this fall.
Emoni Bates, Jalen Duren, Penny Hardaway, Larry Brown and Rasheed Wallace all together.
I have no idea how good Memphis will be, but it's going to be a show.
— Kevin Sweeney (@CBB_Central) August 25, 2021
Emoni Bates has announced he is headed to Memphis.
Penny Hardaway has landed one hell of a recruiting class with Bates and Jalen Duren.
Tigers Preseason Top 10, maybe Top 5.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) August 25, 2021
Penny Hardaway is building something special at @Memphis_MBB 🔥
🐯 Jalen Duren (No. 4 in 2021)
🐯 Emoni Bates (No. 5 in 2021)
🐯 Rasheed Wallace (joined coaching staff) pic.twitter.com/DWb91HDGVK
— 247Sports (@247Sports) August 25, 2021
@BatesEmoni welcome to MEMPHIS lil bro 💪🏽💪🏽🖤 time to turn da city 🆙
— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) August 25, 2021
Emoni Bates to Memphis.
Him and Jalen Duren could go down as one of the best pairings in basketball next season. The freshman class that Penny Hardaway, Cody Toppert, and the rest of the staff brought in, will be super fun to watch.
— Jake (@jakeweingarten) August 25, 2021
Grizzlies: Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. highlighting a playoff team with a great young core.
Tiger basketball: 2 of the top 5 recruits, top recruiting class, Penny, All-Star coaching staff.
Tiger football starting up and getting huge stadium renovations.
MEMPHIS SPORTS ARE LIT pic.twitter.com/iKrTuILqPU
— Parker Fleming (@PAKA_FLOCKA) August 25, 2021
Since he took over the Memphis program in 2018, Hardaway hasn’t been able to bring the school back to the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers won the NIT this past year after going 20-8 in the regular season, but the program’s expectations are much higher than winning college basketball’s consolation prize.
Now that Bates and Duran are en route and Hardaway has built a new-look coaching staff, Memphis seems to have all the pieces necessary for successful upcoming season. Time will tell if the program can get back to the promised land of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight years next March.