Calipari will recruit actively
Mass exodus of talent could follow '08 season
By Dan Wolken
April 29, 2007
Technically, the University of Memphis has just one scholarship to give for 2008: the one currently occupied by senior-to-be Joey Dorsey. Coach John Calipari said this week, however, he wants to sign as many as five players for the class of 2008.
It's not hard to read between the lines.
"In all likelihood," Calipari said, "we're going to clear the decks in another year."
While Memphis has escaped this spring without any early defections to the NBA Draft, Calipari is not expecting the same thing next April. If the Tigers have the kind of season most people expect -- which is to say, a Final Four-type season -- Calipari is ready to re-stock his roster for 2008-09.
"Obviously Joey will leave and maybe two, three, four of the other guys will have an opportunity to go if we do something unique," Calipari said.
Certainly, Calipari will have to replace incoming point guard Derrick Rose. It would be a huge surprise if Rose, a projected top-three pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, stays at Memphis for more than one year. Chris Douglas-Roberts could also be a candidate to leave after his junior year. The Web site nbadraft.net currently projects Douglas-Roberts, the Tigers' leading scorer last season, as a late first-round pick in 2008. If forward Robert Dozier has a big junior year, he too could explore leaving early.
Calipari also hinted at the possibility a scholarship will open up this summer, which he would save for the 2008 class.
"This year we only had 12 guys on scholarship," he said. "Next year, I bet you we'll only have 12 guys on scholarship."
For that to happen, somebody currently on the roster would have to transfer. Though all is quiet on that front, it wouldn't be a surprise if one of Memphis' little-used scholarship players leaves after the school year ends.
For Tre'Von Willis, Hashim Bailey and perhaps even Kareem Cooper, it will be a struggle to break into the rotation next season. With Rose, Jeff Robinson and Iowa State transfer Shawn Taggart coming into the fold -- and all three are expected to contribute -- the Tigers project to have a 10- or 11-man rotation.
The wild card is freshman Pierre Niles. If he commits himself to a rigorous summer conditioning program, he'll get plenty of minutes as Dozier's backup, which is something Memphis lacked last season.
As far as who would fill the open scholarships, two of them are already spoken for. Twin forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris, who signed letters of intent last fall, will go to prep school as expected. With the three remaining slots, Calipari is looking for a wing, a guard and an athletic big man.
Though it's still early, Memphis is recruiting a number of highly rated players for the 2008 class. St. George's guard Elliot Williams has been a top target all along, but he is thought to be favoring Virginia or Vanderbilt.
The Tigers are also heavily involved with other guards like Tyreke Evans of Aston, Pa. (ranked fifth overall by Rivals.com), Jordan Theodore of Paterson, N.J. (ranked 56th), Chicago's DeAndre Liggins (ranked 90th), Craigmont's Terrico White and Brian Walsh, who is from Calipari's hometown of Moon, Pa.
Memphis is also looking at several big men, including 6-9 Laron Dendy, a borderline top-50 player who originally committed to Clemson but has re-opened his recruitment and is listing Memphis among a number of schools including Arizona, Texas, Maryland and Florida State.
Memphis is now taking applications for the John Calipari Basketball School with four camps for ages 7 through 18.
The first camp from June 4-7 focuses on practice skills and work habits and costs $175. The second, Mike Miller's shooting camp, runs from June 11-13 and costs $175. The Elite Overnight camp is June 15-17 and is $185. From June 25-28, Rod Strickland will run a camp with appearances by NBA players. The camp costs $225.
More information and registration can be obtained at coachcalipari.com or by calling 678-2346.
The Memphis radio broadcast team will return intact for 2007-08.
Learfield Sports, the parent company of Tiger Sports Properties, recently renewed the contracts of play-by-play man Dave Woloshin, color commentator Matt Dillon and studio host Forrest Goodman for another year. Jeff Brightwell has also been retained as the engineer.
Dillon and Goodman will continue to co-host the pre- and post-game shows on WREC-AM (600).
Dillon is entering his 35th season calling Memphis basketball on either television or radio.
Etc.: Memphis' non-conference schedule, the details of which were reported in last Wednesday's editions of The Commercial Appeal, is based on a 16-game Conference USA slate. At one point, Calipari was going to lobby his league coaches to go back to the 14-game schedule used in 2005-06. But with other leagues going to an 18-game schedule, including the Big East, Calipari said he was fine with 16 C-USA games. ...Calipari will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday night at AutoZone Park for the UofM's baseball game against Ole Miss. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.
To reach reporter Dan Wolken, call 529-2365