It's madness in Memphis with elite recruits visiting
Dan Wolken, The Commercial Appeal
Thursday, October 11, 2007
MEMPHIS - For most basketball programs around the country, the seven months that separate March Madness and Midnight Madness are a calm retreat from which they can emerge in October reinvented and refreshed.
At Memphis, however, the madness did not stop. From John Calipari's globetrotting to the arrival of freshman phenom Derrick Rose to record ticket sales and unbridled hype to a September incident on Beale Street that landed two players in court, barely a week has gone went by without the Tigers being part of this city's consciousness.
"It's definitely what I thought I'd get and much more," junior forward Robert Dozier said Wednesday, describing the remarkable attention Memphis the team has gotten this summer. "I expected to come in and win and change the program around with my classmates, and it's been a tremendous ride."
Though the coaches have not changed, the players have barely changed and aspirations of a national championship are still intact, Friday's Memphis Madness will indeed be a symbolic celebration of a new season.
Calipari said he was hoping for "12,000 to 15,000 or more" on Friday, given the excitement about the Tigers, ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in several preseason polls.
And a full house would likely make a positive impression on the long list of elite recruits who will be in attendance.
Basically every high school player from Memphis who is on the Tigers' radar has been confirmed as a guest. That includes St. George's guard Elliot Williams, who will be making his official visit to the Tigers.
Williams, a consensus top-20 senior in the nation according to scouting services, has already visited Virginia, Duke and Tennessee and is expected to make his decision after the Memphis visit.
Briarcrest junior guard Leslie McDonald and White Station junior forward Farrakohn Hall - both consensus top-75 players - headline a long list of underclassmen coming to Memphis Madness, including Gentry Hines (Raleigh-Egypt), Tim Peete (Central), Greg Wooten (Briarcrest), Joe Jackson (White Station), Bobby Parks Jr. (Ridgeway) and Mardracus Wade (Mitchell), among others.
Memphis also will have out-of-town visitors from the 2009 high school class, including Christian Watford from Birmingham and Xavier Henry from Oklahoma City. Watford, a 6-7 small forward, is rated in the top 50 by most scouting services and is also very good friends with DeMarcus Cousins, a consensus top-five player in the class. Cousins was still considering visiting Memphis Madness as of Wednesday, according to a source.
This will be Henry's second straight visit to Memphis Madness. A 6-6 guard rated No. 2 in the junior class by Scout.com, Henry's favorites appear to be Memphis and Kansas at this point. His father, Carl Henry, played at Kansas when Calipari was an assistant there.
Durand Scott, a 6-4 guard from New York rated as a top-50 junior, also is likely to be in Memphis on an unofficial visit this weekend.
All told, that's between five and seven potential McDonald's All-Americans.