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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Article on St. George's (Memphis) H.S. Star Elliott Williams (U of M, One of Five Finalists)

St. George's star on recruiting fast track

Jason Smith, Commercial Appeal
June 27, 2007

If ESPN basketball recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons' latest assessment of him is on point, St. George's rising senior guard Elliot Williams can forget about maintaining a low profile any time between now and November, when he finally signs with a college.

One of several standouts nationwide invited to participate in last week's National Basketball Players Association's Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va., the 6-4 Williams was so astounding offensively during the camp that Gibbons told a local Virginia basketball beat writer Williams has "emerged as being one of the top five players in the nation."

That's a pretty big jump for a player currently ranked the No. 20 overall prospect in the class of 2008 by, though Williams' stock is clearly soaring, as evidenced by his recent visit with Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Williams, who two months ago said he'd cut his college list to a "main five" of Tennessee, Memphis, Clemson, Virginia and Vanderbilt, said Tuesday he'll reveal a new list of "four to five" schools within the next week.

"I'm going to talk to my family and hopefully get it down to four or five by the beginning of next week," said Williams, who added his experience in Virginia was "the best camp I've been to."

"(Washington-bound guard) Isaiah Thomas was primarily the point guard for our team, so I had a chance to play off the ball and he just kept giving it to me and I just kept scoring. ... It was great, getting a chance to talk to NBA players about life during and after basketball."

Bringing home gold

Williams wasn't the only local hoopster turning heads on a national stage last week.

Briarcrest Christian rising junior guard Leslie McDonald and Evangelical Christian School basketball coach Terry Tippett recently returned to Memphis with gold medals for their Red Team's 112-109 overtime win in the gold-medal game of last week's USA Basketball Men's Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"It was a great experience for me," said McDonald, a 6-4 combo guard ranked the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2009 by

"All the talent out there, you didn't know who was going to win the gold. But as we started playing together, I kind of noticed that (the Red Team) could go all the way."

Playing on a Red Team that included 6-8 Indiana commitment Devin Ebanks and class of 2009 standout guard Lance Stephenson (Brooklyn, N.Y.), McDonald averaged 12.8 points on .571 shooting and 2.4 assists in five tournament games, helping his Red Team to a 5-0 mark.

Tippett, one of six prep coaches nationwide selected to participate in the Festival and a Red Team assistant, praised McDonald for his decision-making and ballhandling, noting his Festival-best 4.5 assist-to-turnover ratio.

"I was just amazed at the talent that was out there. These kids are gonna be on TV, either in college or the pros, shortly," Tippett said.

"(McDonald) was very dependable and very reliable. ... We knew he'd come in and would play good defense, make good decisions and take good shots, which is kind of a rarity in those kind of games."

McDonald's high school coach, John Harrington, was simply happy his star player returned home injury-free. McDonald will participate next in this weekend's Steve Nash/Nike point guard camp in New Jersey, which will host the nation's top 20 point guard prospects. In July, he'll attend the LeBron James/Nike camp in Akron, Ohio.

"I was glad to see him be first in the Festival with that assist-to-turnover ratio," Harrington said. "He didn't shoot it quite as well (from 3-point range) as I thought he would have, but he did a little bit of everything."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Las Vegas Review-Journal - Tre'Von Willis Transfers to UNLV

Jun. 15, 2007
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Rebels land Memphis shooting guard Willis


UNLV Basketball
Memphis transfer says UNLV a perfect fit

One day in Las Vegas was enough to convince TreVon Willis to commit to UNLV for the next four years.

The 6-foot-4-inch shooting guard wrapped up his campus visit Thursday and informed Rebels coach Lon Kruger of his decision. Willis is transferring from Memphis, where he rarely played as a freshman.

"I felt comfortable with everything. It's a perfect fit for me," Willis said. "I felt like it was the right thing, and I had to do what's best for me."

Willis must sit out next season but he will be on scholarship. He has three years of eligibility remaining, beginning with the 2008-09 season.

UNLV has a scholarship available because 6-8 sophomore center Jerome Johnson will not be returning to the team. Doctors have determined Johnson, who had knee surgery and sat out last season, is not physically able to play.

Johnson, from Baltimore, appeared in 10 games as a freshman.

Willis played in only 17 games and averaged 2.6 points per game in his one season with the Tigers. He said he was unhappy with his playing time and wanted to return to the West Coast.

Willis scored 23.4 points per game as a senior at Washington Union High School in Fresno, and his 2,842 career points were the fifth most in California prep history. He was ranked by as the No. 37 shooting guard.

After high school, he chose Memphis over UNLV. This time, he picked the Rebels over Fresno State and San Diego State.

Willis is the first member of UNLV's 2008-09 recruiting class. He is permitted to practice with the team next season.

Monday, June 25, 2007's Andy Katz, "Memphis Holds on to #1"

Memphis holds on to No. 1

By Andy Katz,
Updated: June 19, 2007

The early-entry decisions affected a few teams in my Top 25, notably Georgetown and Marquette.

Still, it's hard to move Memphis. So in my fourth pre-preseason Top 25, the Tigers hold on to the top spot for the second time. (Florida was No. 1 immediately after the Final Four. Kansas moved up to No. 1 in a revised ranking nine days later. Memphis was No. 1 the first time after the NBA draft declaration deadline.) This should be the final pre-preseason ranking until the preseason edition in October/November.

Get those comments ready for our community editors:

1. Memphis
2006-07 Record: 33-4, 16-0
Look, the Tigers still haven't lost anyone of significance from an Elite Eight team. They still added Derrick Rose to the mix, which gives them one of the top talents coming in this season. Chris Douglas-Roberts and Joey Dorsey are a one-two punch that can allow John Calipari's squad to press, run and score in bunches. Memphis just locked up Georgetown for a home game and already had Arizona, Gonzaga and Tennessee at home, and USC and possibly Kentucky in neutral games in New York. This squad is loaded. The schedule is popping with RPI points. And the Tigers have the one coach who isn't afraid to say anything.

2. North Carolina
2006-07 Record: 31-7, 11-5
Brandan Wright didn't hesitate to say that Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson will be better than he was this past season. If that's the case, look out for the Tar Heels. Sure, this squad lost Wright, Reyshawn Terry and a pesky 3-point shooter in Wes Miller, but the rest of the crew is loaded up with Tyler Hansbrough, the likely ACC Player of the Year, and a backcourt in Wayne Ellington and Tywon Lawson that is pumped to produce. The Tar Heels got a sniff of the Elite Eight but are determined to get to the Final Four.

3. Kansas
2006-07 Record: 33-5, 14-2
Let's assume that Brandon Rush makes a normal comeback from an ACL injury. If that's the case, the Jayhawks shouldn't have an issue winning the Big 12 and being a favorite to make it to San Antonio. Bill Self still hasn't reached a Final Four, but he may have his best shot with Rush, Darrell Arthur and a host of guards led by Sherron Collins and Russell Robinson. There is depth at every position and plenty of purpose with this group after losing to UCLA in the Elite Eight.

2006-07 Record: 30-6, 15-3
The Bruins did lose Arron Afflalo, but there is too much returning to move the Bruins out of the top five. And you cannot ignore the impact of Kevin Love on this squad. He could be the top low-post scoring threat in the West. If Love can keep up with Darren Collison's jet speed at the point, the rest of the role players should help the Bruins once again reign out West and go for their third straight Final Four appearance.

5. Georgetown
2006-07 Record: 30-7, 13-3
Losing Jeff Green knocks the Hoyas out of the top four. But you may be surprised to see the Hoyas still in my top five. That's because few teams will have a low-post threat like Roy Hibbert. He continues to improve and could play himself into a top-four pick in 2008. And the importance of Jonathan Wallace on last season's team was way underplayed. The guards are all back and the expected rise in production out of the forwards like DaJuan Summers and Vernon Macklin makes the Hoyas a legit Final Four contender again.

6. Louisville
2006-07 Record: 24-10, 12-4
Let's assume that Derrick Caracter will be just fine after knee surgery this spring. If he is, the Cardinals will be one of the toughest frontcourts to match up with in the country. Caracter, Earl Clark, David Padgett and Juan Palacios give Rick Pitino plenty of options. Edgar Sosa makes the Cards move quickly and the overall defensive intensity that was seen during the NCAA Tournament should make the Cards the chic pick to get to San Antonio. Don't be surprised to see Louisville get tabbed ahead of Georgetown in the Big East by some.

7. Washington State
2006-07 Record: 26-8, 13-5
I know it looks odd to see Washington State in the top 10 in basketball. It just does. But deal. The Cougars are going to be that good this season with the core of this team intact, led by Derrick Low and my favorite, Robbie Cowgill, who better not cut the big hair. The gangly Cowgill is a throwback player who fits Tony Bennett's style perfectly. This squad understands how to play the game and is a joy to watch. Did I just say that about a Washington State team? There's no question times have changed in Pullman.

8. Michigan State
2006-07 Record: 23-12, 8-8
Drew Neitzel. Drew Neitzel. Drew Neitzel. How many times can I type his name to show how important he is to this squad? Seriously, Tom Izzo has the pieces around Neitzel to ensure that the Spartans are a Final Four contender yet again. The Spartans don't have as much talent as Indiana, but something tells me that they will defend better and win a few more tight games.

9. Indiana
2006-07 Record: 21-11, 10-6
The Hoosiers are back. Indiana's relevance is no longer a question. D.J. White's decision to stay and Eric Gordon's decision to come make the Hoosiers one of the toughest inside-out teams next season. The Indiana-Michigan State games should be must-see TV next season. Kelvin Sampson has his best shot to get to a Final Four since taking Oklahoma in 2002.

10. Tennessee
2006-07 Record: 24-11, 10-6
The Vols are the class of the SEC this season. That sentence alone seems odd. But it's true. The Vols return too much, notably Chris Lofton, who chose to come back, for anyone else to be the favorite in the SEC. Bruce Pearl has quite simply done wonders for the Vols nation in his brief tenure. The interesting dynamic now is how the Vols will handle the pressure of being the favorite, something they haven't had to deal with too often.

11. Duke
2006-07 Record: 20-11, 8-8
Losing Josh McRoberts just means the Blue Devils will rely on Brian Zoubek more in the post. But McRoberts' overall loss is made up by the arrival of Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and Taylor King, three heralded recruits who -- combined with the return of Jon Scheyer, DeMarcus Nelson, Greg Paulus and Gerald Henderson -- make the Blue Devils the second-most talented team in the ACC outside of Carolina (and we didn't even get to Lance Thomas and David McClure).

12. Oregon
2006-07 Record: 29-8, 11-7
Yes, I know Aaron Brooks is gone. But I fell for the Ducks during the Pac-10 tournament with Tajuan Porter, Bryce Taylor, Malik Hairston and Maarty Leunen making for one of the more entertaining teams to watch last season. The Ducks will score in bunches and as long as they can score in the low post and defend in the same area, expect this squad to be a factor in the Pac-10 race throughout the season.

13. Marquette
2006-07 Record: 24-10, 10-6
The Eagles got great news when Dominic James came to his senses and decided to return to school. That means the Eagles essentially have the same team as last season. That team was good enough to be a season-long pest, a Big East threat and an NCAA Tournament team. The same should occur next season, with maybe the chance to do even more in March.

14. Pitt
2006-07 Record: 29-8, 12-4
The Panthers lose big men Aaron Gray and Levon Kendall but add Dejuan Blair, who might be another under-the-radar superstud coming to Pitt. The Panthers return the core of their perimeter as well as their wings and Jamie Dixon quite simply doesn't lose too often. This team will move quicker, play defense perhaps a bit tighter and will not lose too many, if any, home games. Expect the Panthers to be in the thick of the Big East race.

15. Gonzaga
2006-07 Record: 23-11, 11-3
Josh Heytvelt will be ready to go next season. The suspension (for a felony drug possession charge, to which he later pleaded not guilty) will be lifted. So if you put Heytvelt back on this squad with a loaded recruiting class and the return of Jeremy Pargo, Matt Bouldin and Micah Downs, you have yet another top-15 Zags team. This squad will win some high-profile, nonconference games before disappearing a bit in the WCC. The Zags should be a factor for a decent seed yet again in March. Sorry, this program is not going away.

16. Kentucky
2006-07 Record: 22-12, 9-7
Billy Gillispie's timing was perfect. He gets the Kentucky job right when there is a major, power-playing talent nearby in Patrick Patterson. Patterson might have gone to Kentucky even if Tubby Smith had stayed, but he's perfect for Gillispie. He'll work his tail off rebounding and running the floor for Billy Clyde. That's great, considering that the Wildcats want to run with a guard-heavy lineup led by Derrick Jasper, Jodie Meeks, Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford. The addition of Patterson makes this team a likely enjoyable watch.

17. Texas A&M
2006-07 Record: 27-7, 13-3
Acie Law is gone. So too is the ultimate glue guy in Antanas Kavaliauskas and the guy who coached them (now with the No. 16 team in this poll). But fear not Aggies fans, because Mark Turgeon is no slouch and the addition of DeAndre Jordan, the return of Joseph Jones and a solid backcourt led by 3-point threat Josh Carter mean the Aggies are the second-best team in the Big 12 and a legit pick to make the Sweet 16 again.

18. Texas
2006-07 Record: 25-10, 12-4
Yes, I understand Kevin Durant isn't going back to Texas. Yes, I understand that he was the go-to player for the Longhorns. But I also know that D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams can score as well as any guard tandem in the country. If the Longhorns can get some balance up front, this squad will be just fine in the Big 12 and beyond.

19. Stanford
2006-07 Record: 18-13, 10-8
OK, I'll admit I messed up big-time thinking that the Cardinal could beat Louisville in the NCAA first round and saying it on television and radio. That was wrong, way wrong. Still, the Cardinal return nearly the entire team intact, including the Lopez twins, two of the toughest post players in the West. If the Cardinal can shirk off the embarrassment of losing badly to the Cardinals, this squad should be a legit top-20 team throughout the season.

20. Arizona
2006-07 Record: 20-11, 11-7
Putting Arizona in the top 20 might seem like a stretch to some after the way the Cats finished the season and with the departures of Mustafa Shakur, Ivan Radenovic and Marcus Williams. But the Wildcats still have Chase Budinger, Jawann McClellan and Jordan Hill, and added guard Jerryd Bayless and assistant coach Kevin O'Neill, the latter for some nastiness on defense. That's enough with Lute Olson still trolling the sidelines to secure a place in my top 20.

21. USC
2006-07 Record: 25-12, 11-7
I can already hear some of the trusted USC faithful I converse with wondering how I could drop the Trojans so low. As much as the top recruiting class -- led by O.J. Mayo -- makes the Trojans a viable top-15 team, the fact that they are losing two first-round draft picks in Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt cannot be overlooked. Taj Gibson is a dynamite talent and Daniel Hackett is a serviceable starter, but there will be some early-season growing pains before this group blossoms in March.

22. Xavier
2006-07 Record: 25-9, 13-3
The last time I saw this squad, the Musketeers were beating Ohio State and should have won the game. Not much has changed from that team, and Sean Miller continues to produce the team to beat in the Atlantic 10 until someone else proves otherwise. Xavier will be a formidable foe no matter the locale. Miller and the Musketeers win.

23. Davidson
2006-07 Record: 29-5, 17-1
Don't really care if you think this pick is crazy. Davidson has one of the hidden gems in Stephen Curry. Bob McKillop is one of the top coaches who gets zero pub. This team will win 28 to 29 games and be a tough out in the NCAAs. So deal with Davidson in the Top 25.

24. Wisconsin
2006-07 Record: 30-6, 13-3
Bo Ryan is a lot like new Michigan coach John Beilein. They're simply not going to finish low. Ryan lost Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor, but the Badgers were hardly a two-man squad. The Badgers will win games because of their system. They will have more balance, defend and win plenty of home games.

25. Florida
2006-07 Record: 35-5, 13-3
Look, I know you could put a lot of other teams here, teams like Providence, NC State, Clemson, UAB, Notre Dame, Kansas State, Washington, Syracuse, Connecticut, Ohio State or even the next-best SEC team. But I thought about this one for a while and it was clear to me that the Gators, now that Billy Donovan is back, won't slip out of the top 25 and out of contention for an NCAA berth. He's proved to be too good a coach, and the talent of Marreese Speights and Nick Calathes is too high for this squad to drop too low. The Gators will win their home games, steal some on the road and be in the Dance. You watch.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for

Jerseys Change as Quickly as Hair Styles (and other news)

Jerseys change as quickly as hair styles

By Don Wolken
June 24, 2007

It's a numbers game at the University of Memphis this year, in more ways than one.
When Jeremy Hunt and Clyde Wade graduated from the program, two highly sought-after jersey numbers became available: No. 5 and No. 0, respectively.

It didn't take long for the remaining Tigers to jump on them as former No. 12 Antonio Anderson immediately claimed Hunt's No. 5 and Shawn Taggart took No. 0.
But they aren't the only players switching numbers for 2007-08. After wearing No. 32 for three years, forward Joey Dorsey will wear No. 3 as a senior, taking the number worn by Tre'Von Willis last year and Chris Douglas-Roberts the year before that. Walk-on guard Chance McGrady is going from No. 55 to No. 31.

Meanwhile, incoming freshman guard Jeff Robinson will wear 32, Dorsey's former number. Freshman point guard Derrick Rose will wear No. 23.

At Simeon High School in Chicago, Rose wore No. 25 to honor Ben Wilson, a star player at the school who was murdered in 1984. But 25 is one of the eight numbers retired by Memphis as it was last worn by Penny Hardaway.

Though Rose did not ask to wear No. 25, Hardaway offered to let him wear it, according to team manager Bryan Settle. The school, however, would not approve a number being unretired so Rose will wear No. 23.

Asked about the number issue, Rose was nonplussed.

"I'll wear whatever number they give me," he said.

For Anderson, going to No. 5 is a welcome change as it was the number he wore before coming to Memphis, where it was already occupied by Hunt.

"Twelve was never my number," Anderson said.

Thirteen was Taggart's number in high school, but when he came to Memphis, he found out it was retired in honor of Forest Arnold. Though he didn't play last season due to NCAA transfer rules, Taggart was No. 10 on the official team roster.

Presented with the opportunity to wear No. 0 for his Memphis debut, Taggart couldn't pass it up.

"Because I wasn't supposed to amount to nothing," Taggart said.

According to whom?

"The people who hated me back home. It's a tribute to them."

Transfer talk

While one former Memphis player has found a new college destination, another is in the process of looking for one.

Willis has settled on UNLV, which was his second choice coming out of high school. The Fresno, Calif., product also considered Hawaii and Pepperdine but committed shortly after visiting Las Vegas.

"I felt comfortable with everything. It's a perfect fit for me," Willis told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I felt like it was the right thing, and I had to do what's best for me."

Center Kareem Cooper, meanwhile, will probably end up transferring to a program led by a former Memphis assistant. But it won't necessarily be the one you think.

Though Cooper was in El Paso this week visiting UTEP and second-year head coach Tony Barbee, don't be surprised if he ends up at Lamar with Steve Roccaforte.

Despite some media outlets inferring that Cooper's transfer to UTEP is a done deal, multiple sources close to the Memphis program maintain that Barbee has not decided whether to accept Cooper.

If UTEP is Cooper's destination, Memphis coach John Calipari confirmed he would sign a waiver of the Conference USA rule requiring players transferring within the league to sit out two years. Thus, Cooper would be eligible in 2008-09.

Not worried

Hunt said he's not sweating the outcome of Thursday's NBA Draft. Whether or not he gets picked, Hunt believes he'll have plenty of opportunities to impress NBA teams in a summer league or training camp.

"I only have positive thoughts if I do or don't get drafted," Hunt said. "Even in the worst-case scenario, it's not over with."

Though plenty of teams saw Hunt at the NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando, he's also done a private workout with Dallas and has one scheduled for Wednesday in Charlotte.

He said the L.A. Clippers also have shown interest in scheduling a workout this week.

"I probably won't know what to expect until the night before or the day of," Hunt said. "I'm never worried, never frustrated, never get down on myself. I just keep working."

Recruiting news

Christian Watford, who could be a key figure in Memphis' recruiting plans a year from now, was on campus this weekend for an unofficial visit.

Watford, a 6-7 forward from Trussville, Ala., is the 24th-ranked player in the class of 2009, according to Though Watford is an elite prospect in his own right, he's also good friends with Birmingham phenom DeMarcus Cousins, a 6-9 forward ranked third by Rivals in the 2009 class.

Memphis has been mentioned in connection with several top players for 2009, including Xavier Henry (No. 2), Cousins, Derrick Favors (No. 5), Lance Stephenson (No. 7), Briarcrest's Leslie McDonald (No. 11), Watford and Richard Howell (No. 26), who was on campus last weekend for the Memphis elite camp.

Last chance to camp

The John Calipari Summer Basketball School concludes this week with the Rod Strickland and Friends camp Monday through Thursday. Strickland, the Tigers' director of student-athlete development and a 17-year NBA veteran, will lead the camp for ages 7 through 18 at the Finch Center on Spottswood and Echles. Spots are available for walk-up campers.

The camp includes a scheduled guest appearance by New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul.

The cost is $225 with a $25 discount for players who have signed up for a previous camp this year.

To reach reporter Dan Wolken, call 529-2365

Tiger Scholarship Fund Reaches New Heights

Scholarship fund reaches new heights

By Phil Stukenborg, Commercial Appeal
June 23, 2007

The University of Memphis athletic department is expected to set a record for donations to its Tiger Scholarship Fund, surpassing last year's record of $5 million.

The TSF, the fund-raising arm for the athletic department, reached its longtime goal of $5 million last year, but could approach $6 million when figures are announced next month. A re-seating at FedExForum for the Tiger basketball program -- coming off consecutive Elite Eight appearances and expected to be ranked in the preseason top five -- has contributed to increased donations.

''We budgeted $5.2 million (in donations) for 2007, but we are going to surpass that,'' said Bill Landsen, UofM associate athletic director/development. ''We'll be setting a new record, although I'm not sure what it will be.''

After last year's record donation total, athletic director R.C. Johnson, who set the $5 million bar when he was hired 11 years ago, said $6 million would be the next benchmark.

''I don't have a tally, but we're having phenomenal success with our (TSF) renewals and with new members,'' Johnson said. ''We wanted 500 new members, and we have surpassed that.

''As for our donations, the goal was $5.2 million. I feel confident we'll make that, which will be another all-time record. The goal has always been to offset scholarship costs.''

Johnson said each percentage point increase in tuition translates to about $52,000 in scholarship costs. Tuition has increased in recent years by about five percent annually.

From Yellow Chair Sports "Early Look Toward Next Season"

Yellow Chair Sports

Friday, June 22, 2007
An Early Look Towards Next Season in College Basketball

At my college basketball blog From Way Downtown, I have previewed my projected top 25 teams for next season. Besides my full preview of the top five shortly below here, other teams of note include Georgetown at 6, Michigan State at 8, Marquette at 9, Duke at 11, Villanova at 15 and Syracuse at 22.

1. Memphis:

An Elite 8 team last season, the Tigers return their starting five from a year ago and have one of the best point guard prospects in years coming in. Derrick Rose, the athletic 6'3 floor general from the Windy City, will lead the way for Memphis. A pure point guard with excellent size and a capable perimeter shooter, Rose has a very good chance of winning a national championship during his brief stay in college. A myriad of talented wing players join Rose on the perimeter. Chris Douglas-Roberts, a complete scorer who always finds a way to get open, should lead the Tigers in scoring again this season. Antonio Anderson gives the Tigers an adept ball handler and distributor from the wing, as well as another player who can take it to the basket. The super athletic Doneal Mack will provide instant offense of the bench, as he averaged 7 points per game in just 14 minutes of action. Another freshman, Jeff Robinson, should provide an offensive spark off the bench. A 6'5 wing from prep power St. Patrick's (NJ), Robinson can really shoot the ball and like most Memphis players, enjoys attacking the rim. To round the backcourt, last season's starter at the point, sophomore Willie Kemp, will back-up Rose and can also play next to him on occasion. Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier return to anchor the Tigers frontcourt. Dorsey, an athletic 6'9 bull, does a great job of rebounding and altering shots. He struggles with getting into foul trouble, but always makes a big impact when out on the court. Dozier, an athletic 6'9 forward, enjoys getting to the rim and can hit the mid-range jumper. On defense, he uses his length to block and alter shots. Massive 6'8 sophomore Pierre Niles gives the Tigers a true back to the basket scorer when he comes into the game. If the 285 pound Niles can get into better shape, he will earn significant minutes this season, especially when the Tigers get caught up in a half-court game. With a balanced roster and a proven coach in John Calipari, Memphis has the chance to make history this season as the first non-BCS national champion in almost two decades.

Projected Starters:
G Derrick Rose, 6'3, Fr.
G Chris Douglas-Roberts, 6'5, Jr.
G Antonio Anderson, 6'5, Jr.
F Robert Dozier, 6'9, Jr.
F Joey Dorsey, 6'9, Sr.

Key Reserves:
G Doneal Mack, 6'5, So.
G/F Jeff Robinson, 6'5, Fr.
F Pierre Niles, 6'8, So.
G Willie Kemp, 6'2, So.
G Andre Allen, 5'10, Sr.

2. North Carolina:

The Tar Heels, with the majority of their key parts returning, look to avenge last season's heartbreaking loss to Georgetown in the Elite 8. The hardest working player in America, Tyler Hansbrough, will once again lead the way. The 6'9 junior forward has been a scoring and rebounding machine during his two seasons in Chapel Hill, and should be the heavy favorite for ACC player of the year. Joining in him in the frontcourt will be a pair of talented sophomores, Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson. Thompson, a well built power forward with excellent post moves, proved be a key player off the bench last season. During his one chance to start, he had a huge game replacing the sick Brandan Wright in their drubbing of Arizona. Stepheson, an athletic 6'9 forward, should be the first big off the bench this year and will be a nice option when Hansbrough or Thompson needs a rest. Super quick point guard Ty Lawson returns to lead the Tar Heels offense. The 5'11 Lawson has an extremely quick first step, and cannot be left open from the perimeter. Starting for the majority of his freshman season, Lawson generally played like an experienced floor general. Another sophomore, Wayne Ellington, joins Lawson in the backcourt. A very smooth player with an excellent perimeter shot, Ellington looks to be poised for a big sophomore campaign. At the other perimeter spot, Roy Williams will have an interesting choice between lockdown defender Marcus Ginyard and skilled wing Danny Green. After starting as a freshman, Ginyard adjusted nicely to coming off the bench last season and blends in nicely with this group of stars and future pros. Green, a crafty player from New York, could be a nice option as Carolina's sixth man. Guards Bobby Frasor and Quention Thomas give the Tar Heels two other very players off the bench, and redshirt forward William Graves will fight to earn minutes. While the Tar Heels lost two quality players in Brandan Wright and Reyshawn Terry, they still have a very talented, deep group capable of winning it all and ready to dominate the ACC.

Projected Starters:
G Ty Lawson, 5'11, So.
G Wayne Ellington, 6'4, So.
G Marcus Ginyard, 6'5, Jr.
F Deon Thompson, 6'8, So.
F Tyler Hansbrough, 6'9, Jr.

Key Reserves:
G/F Danny Green, 6'5, Jr.
F Alex Stepheson, 6'9, So.
G Bobby Frasor, 6'3, Jr.
G Quentin Thomas, 6'3, Sr.
F William Graves, 6'6, Fr.

3. UCLA:

The Bruins, coming off back-to-back Final Four appearances, look to be poised to make it three consecutive trips for Ben Howland. The return of super point guard Darren Collison and the arrival of awesome freshman Kevin Love gives the Bruins a dynamic pair to build around. Collison made the loss of Jordan Farmar to the NBA a non-issue last season. A very quick player with the knack for hitting big shots, Collison passed on the pros for a chance to help the Bruins take that elusive final step and bring the national championship back to Westwood. An excellent leader at the point guard spot, Collison will again look to set up his talented group of teammates. Joining him in the backcourt will be junior wing Josh Shipp. Despite struggling with injuries during his college career, Shipp has managed to be a consistent scoring threat and tough defender when he's on the court. Going through another hip surgery this offseason, Shipp hopes to finally comes back 100 percent for the 2008 season. The other perimeter starting spot will be competed for by Russell Westbrook, Michael Roll and incoming freshman Chace Stanback. Westbrook, a combo guard who can play off the ball or run the offense when Collison needs a blow, would probably be considered the favorite. Roll, a perimeter marksman, will need to work on the other elements of his game in order to get starter's minutes. The most talented of this group would be Stanback, but he may be better off playing Shipp's spot on the wing. An athletic 6'7 wing player who can get to the basket, Stanback should be a future stalwart for the Bruins program. The Bruins have lacked a guy who can score from the post, but Love will make that a non-issue this season. A complete forward who can hit the perimeter jumper and enjoys competing down low, I think Love will have the biggest freshman impact of anyone in the country. As a boon to the speedy Collison, Love may be the best outlet passer I have ever seen. After a disappointing sophomore season where he battled with injuries, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will be back and ready to make a major impact. As a freshman, Mbah a Moute always managed to get his hands on the ball. However, that quickness and tenacity were quelled by nagging leg injuries and he looked like a shell of his former self towards the end of last season. Before injuries hit, Mbah a Moute showed flashes of developing a complete game that could prepel him back into the serious NBA discussion after this upcoming campaign. All-effort guy Lorenzo Mata will be back and should provide a willing defender and banger down low. Defensive minded Alfred Aboya and perimeter threat James Keefe round out what will be a much improved frontcourt thanks to the presence of Love. Like Kansas, UCLA could see their roster decimated after next season. However, they have all the parts to make 2008 a season to remember.

Projected Starters:
G Darren Collison, 6'0, Jr.
G Russell Westbrook, 6'3, So.
G/F Josh Shipp, 6'5, Jr.
F Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, 6'7, Jr.
F Kevin Love, 6'9, Fr.

Key Reserves:
G/F Chace Stanback, 6'7, Fr.
F Lorenzo Mata, 6'8, Sr.
G Michael Roll, 6'5, Jr.
F Alfred Aboya, 6'8, Jr.
F James Keefe, 6'8, So.

4. Tennessee:

The Vols let Ohio State off the mat in last season's NCAA Tournament, but return all but one of their key guys from a Sweet 16 team. Chris Lofton, the best shooter in America, returns for his senior season to make a run at the Final Four. The 6'2 guard, lightly recruited by homestate Kentucky and Louisville, has developed into a college star. Along with his perimeter marksmanship, Lofton has become an adept penetrator who can burn opponents that guard him too closely. He will again have plenty of help in the backcourt. Sophomore Ramar Smith had a very nice freshman season as the Vols floor general. A lead guard who can set up his teammates and also create his own shot, Smith enjoys playing in Bruce Pearl's up-tempo system. JaJuan Smith has quietly developed into an outstanding college scorer. A dangerous perimeter shooter not afraid to chuck it, Smith has taken a step up during each season of his career and could be poised to join Lofton as an All-SEC performer this season. Senior Jordan Howell gives Pearl a true, pass first point guard. Sophomore Josh Tabb, an excellent defensive player, can play all three guard spots in Pearl's system. Incoming freshman wing Cameron Tatum could be a nice scoring option off the bench. Upfront, sophomore duo Duke Crews and Wayne Chism lead the way. Crews, a hard working post player who can really run the floor, fits nicely as the interior option for Pearl. Chism, a 6'9 big man who can hit the perimeter jumper, did a nice job competing down low with more physical players as a freshman. A lot of the time, Pearl keeps one of these guys on the bench in case other gets into foul trouble and to keep them both fresh. Because of this, emerging junior big man Ryan Childress will probably start at one of the forward spots. Like Chism, Childress can hit the perimeter jumper and gives Pearl the option to play a line-up full of guys who hit the three. With an experienced roster used to playing in Pearl's swarming attack, the Vols should be SEC favorites and a team you will dread to face in March. Given the right draw, they could be the last team standing.

Projected Starters:
G Ramar Smith, 6'2, So.
G Chris Lofton, 6'2, Sr.
G JaJuan Smith, 6'2, Sr.
F Ryan Childress, 6'9, Jr.
F Wayne Chism, 6'9, So.

Key Reserves:
F Duke Crews, 6'7, So.
G Josh Tabb, 6'4, So.
G Jordan Howell, 6'3, Sr.
G Cameron Tatum, 6'5, Fr.

5. Louisville:

After getting healthy and on the same page, the Cardinals may have been the best team in America the last month of the 2007 season. The Cardinals frontcourt may be the most complete unit in the country. Senior David Padgett, a crafty post player who has successfully overcome a myriad of knee injuries, leads this embattled group. While Padgett has lost some of his athleticism, his knowledge of the game and ability to outsmart opponents still makes him a very tough player to guard. Also, fouling him does not work, as he hits better than 80% of his free throws. Juan Palacios, another player who has had to overcome a bunch of injuries, hopes to have a healthy and productive senior season. An athletic forward who can hit the perimeter jumper, Palacios looked to be a future star after playing a key role in Louisville's 2005 Final Four season. Since then, serious ankle and knee injuries have caused him to spend lots of time next to Rick Pitino on the bench and kept him from playing to his vast potential. Super sopohmore Derrick Caracter could be ready to step into the starting line-up. A strong 6'9 post player, Caracter played extremely well after initially clashing with Pitino. If he plays 25 minutes a game, Caracter could easily be a double-double guy. The athletic Earl Clark really emerged after stepping into Palacios's starting spot. While coming to Louisville as a wing player, Clark successfully mixed it up inside and gives the Cardinals a versatile guy who can really bother bigger, slower players. Freshman George Goode, a dangerous perimeter shooter, gives Pitino another versatile frontcourt player to utilize. In the backcourt, sophomore Edgar Sosa leads the way. The New York City guard loves taking it to the basket, and became a better distributor as last season wore on. Sosa had a huge game in their close second round loss to Texas A&M, and could position himself as one of the best guards in the Big East by the end of next season. Jerry Smith had an excellent freshman season, highlighted by a 30 foot game-winning shot to steal a critical win at Marquette. A talented perimeter shooter and lockdown defender, Smith has fit comfortably in Pitino's system despite rumblings that he was looking to transfer. Athletic wing Terrence Williams rounds out the Cardinals starting line-up. A talented player who can be really tough to handle when he focuses on getting to the basket, Williams led the Cardinals in scoring, rebounding and assists last season. However, Williams can be a hinderence when he worries too much about jacking perimeter shots. Still, he's a very tough match-up for opposing teams and the guy who makes the Cardinals go. Junior Andre McGee, a capable back-up point guard, will allow Rick Pitino to play Sosa off the ball while he runs the offense. If they can stay healthy and on the same page, Louisville has a chance to capture the Big East crown and make another run to the Final Four. After a forgettable start to their Big East career, the Cardinals have quickly vaulted their way to the conference's elite.

Projected Starters:
G Edgar Sosa, 6'2, So.
G Jerry Smith, 6'1, So.
F Terrence Williams, 6'6, Jr.
F Juan Palacios, 6'8, Sr.
F/C David Padgett, 6'11, Sr.

Key Reserves:
F Derrick Caracter, 6'9, So.
F Earl Clark, 6'8, So.
G Andre McGee, 5'11, Jr.
F George Goode, 6'8, Fr.

American Chronicle "Memphis Resurgence?"

Memphis resurgence?

Stefan Ming
June 20, 2007

After a disappointing loss to the Ohio St. Buckeyes in the Elite 8 of the 2007 NCAA Tournament, the Memphis Tigers were left looking for answers.

The Tigers had a lot of experience back but were still young and unproved. The 2007-2008 squad will return 5 of their top 6, plus the additions of recruits Derrick Rose and Jeff Robinson will help a lot. Especially the addition of Rose, he should be able to come in right away and help fill in for the lone loss in Jeremy Hunt.

After back to back Elite 8 finishes the past two seasons, Memphis finally has what it takes to get over the hump and into the Final Four. They were the lone team that wasn't affected by the draft deadline date.

With Chris-Douglas Roberts and Joey Dorsey deciding to stay for their junior and seniors seasons, this Tiger team will be ready to be one of the top teams in the country and ready to begin their quest for the school's first national championship.

With the likes of UNC, Georgetown, Kansas, UCLA, Louisville, and Washington St., Memphis will be right in the mix. The one thing is all these teams except Memphis had a significant loss.

Many people blasted the Tigers for their weak schedule last season. But in 2007-2008 they will be able to back it up playing at Arizona (Dec. 29), at Gonzaga (Jan. 19, 2008) and Tennessee (Feb. 23, 2008) at home. They will also be participating in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, with potential meetings against Connecticut, Kentucky and/or Oklahoma in New York. The Tigers play USC in the Jimmy V Classic in New York, at Ole Miss and at Cincinnati, and take on Middle Tennessee State.

This may finally be Memphis' year to get into the Final Four and possibly that national championship game. Chris Douglas-Roberts returned for one reason, to get a national title. The Memphis Tigers have the experience once again and some of the best talent returning of anyone; they are poised to get into the final four and that national title game; you know what they always say: “third times a charm”.

CBS "This Rose Will Bloom in Memphis"

This Rose will bloom in Memphis

June 20, 2007
By Gary Parrish
CBS Senior Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A man inserts a dollar into the jukebox under the Stax poster, and a Jerry Lee Lewis hit recorded at Sun Studio blares from the speakers, that opening piano note unmistakable, undeniable, and uninhibited like "The Killer" himself.

On the wall by the register are newspaper clips with headlines declaring "Tigers take it to 'em" and "Blue Heaven," and in the air hangs the scent of slow cooked pork, the kind Central BBQ advertises right on those plastic cups.

So regardless of the preferred sense -- sight, sound or smell -- it's hard to mistake this is Memphis.

And Derrick Rose is in the middle of it.

He's soaking it up.

He's smiling.

"I wish the season could've started right when I got off the plane," Rose says. "But I've got to wait a couple more months."

More like five months, to be exact. But it's easy to lose track of time while having lunch and trying to make sure nothing is left on the bone. Performing otherwise with a rack of ribs is a sin in this city, like not loving your mama or calling her ma'am. So Rose does the best he can, gets full, gets up and gets a look at his white shorts that are now stained with a combination of famous sauce and rub.

"Ahh," Rose sighs. "It's all over me."

A freshman mistake, to be sure.

But rest assured, Memphis fans, he's gonna learn fast.

"Our ultimate goal is to win the national championship"
There is no shortage of reasons why Memphis sits atop CBS's preseason college basketball rankings. Back-to-back Elite Eights and five returning starters are two of the major ones, but perhaps the most important is the recent arrival of the guy with the stained shorts -- not to mention quick first-step, deadly crossover and overall athleticism that packaged together has some projecting Rose as the No. 1 pick of the 2008 NBA Draft.

That's next year, though.

Between now and then, this 6-foot-3 point guard is expected to lead the Tigers to the Final Four, if not their first national title. He's that good, surrounded by other players who are that good, too. Which is why when the subject comes up, Rose doesn't duck it. While shaking hands with some of his new fans who happen to be enjoying lunch at the table beside us, the Chicago native explains how this is why he plays basketball, why he chose Memphis, why if somebody offered the chance to step onto the FedExForum court right now and tip it off against Georgetown, Arizona or any of the other teams scheduled to visit this season, he'd change shorts and head downtown, grab a ball and run a fast break.

"Just thinking about it is making me happy," Rose says. "Our ultimate goal is to win the national championship."

Those are strong words for an 18-year-old, but this isn't your normal 18-year-old. Hell, this isn't even your normal 18-year-old prodigy. For a McDonald's All-American and future millionaire, Rose is remarkably humble. He's quiet, but not shy. He's confident, but not cocky. On one end of the spectrum is Southern California freshman O.J. Mayo throwing a ball off the backboard, dunking it, tossing it into the crowd and ripping his shirt off before being ejected from a West Virginia state title game. On the other end is Rose distributing his way to an Illinois state championship while choosing to make just one basket.

"This kid can be unselfish to a fault," Memphis coach John Calipari says regularly. "I want him to be more selfish."

Pressed on the issue, Rose promises he will. But it's his willingness to use his unique ability to create opportunities for others that will likely make his transition to college seamless. Because though he is a star by any standard, all things being equal Rose would rather dish 10 assists to help Chris Douglas-Roberts score 20 points than take 10 shots of his own. That's a refreshing mindset for a newcomer set to join a starting lineup featuring three juniors (Douglas-Roberts, Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier) and a senior (Joey Dorsey).

"He's like Jason Kidd," Douglas-Roberts explains. "Who wouldn't want to play with Jason Kidd?"

Joumana Kidd, I guess.

But the list probably begins and ends there.

"Derrick is going to be great," says former NBA point guard Rod Strickland, who serves on Calipari's staff as the director of student-athlete development. "He has Jason Kidd qualities. His floor sense is unbelievable, and he's unselfish. He's a throwback point guard. He's my kind of point guard."

Strickland and I are having this conversation at the Bert Ferguson Community Center in east Memphis while watching Rose -- along with Douglas-Roberts, Anderson and Dozier -- conduct a camp for youths about an hour post rack of ribs. In passing I ask where Rose would be selected if he was eligible for this month's NBA Draft.

"High," Strickland answers without hesitation. "I'd take him ahead of Mike Conley."

Will you sign this, please?

Rose has been in Memphis less than four days at the time of this camp, yet many of the 7-year-olds recognize him immediately. It would be strange under most circumstances. But given how the Tigers have drawn television ratings that rival those of American Idol, it's actually not strange at all.

"They are very familiar with him," confirms Willie Biles, the community center's director. "I think him being in the McDonald's (All-American) game and on TV so much made it where they were looking forward to meeting him."

Did it ever.

After 15 minutes of shooting, this camp is turning into nothing more than an autograph session. One after another the kids hound Rose. And me.

"Can I have a sheet of that paper?" asks one little girl, pointing at my notebook. "I want to get his autograph."

I hand the girl a sheet.

It leads to absolute chaos.

Now I am totally surrounded.

"You're not going to have any paper left," Strickland laughs.

All the while, Rose is scribbling at a high rate. He writes his name and uniform number each time. But suddenly that's not good enough.

"Will you draw a smiley face on it?" asks a little boy.

A smiley face?

"Yeah," the boy answers. "A smiley face."

Here to please, Rose laughs and draws a smiley face beside his name and number. A few minutes later, I chase the boy down, pursue an explanation to this odd request.

"Why did you want Derrick to draw a smiley face?" I ask.

"Because," the boy answers, "that way I'll know that he's happy."

Over to the side, Rose is smiling at all this.

He sure looks happy.

Particularly for a guy with stained shorts and five months to wait.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Memphis Pre-Season #1 By

Preseason Top 25 (and one): No doubting Memphis as No. 1 team

June 18, 2007
By Gary Parrish, CBS Senior Writer

I hated Memphis last season.

I watched the Tigers lose every tough game they played early and was convinced it was an indication of their true ability. So when they waltzed through Conference USA and entered the NCAA Tournament on a 22-game winning streak, I thought the achievement represented nothing more than their talent overwhelming an inferior league, which is why I had Memphis ranked lower than most all season.

Then I picked the Tigers to lose in the Sweet 16.

Privately, I thought an earlier loss was possible.

But I clearly underestimated them.

And I won't let it happen again.

That's why now that the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the NBA Draft has passed, the Memphis Tigers sit atop CBS's preseason college basketball rankings.

What say you, Chris Douglas-Roberts?

"It's an honor," answered the Memphis guard. "But we've still got to play."

Yes, you do.

But the good news for Memphis is that it will be playing with essentially the same group of guys -- sans Jeremy Hunt -- that led the school to its second consecutive Elite Eight. And while Hunt's toughness and ability to make a shot in the clutch will certainly be missed, the reality is this roster should be better than that roster based on the addition of Derrick Rose, a 6-foot-3 point guard projected by some to be the first pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

So Memphis is No. 1.

And Kansas State is No. 26.

Feel free to debate those selections and everything else in between on the message board below.

Preseason Top 25 (and one):

1. Memphis: A strange thing about the Tigers' schedule is how almost all of their difficult games (Tennessee, Georgetown, Arizona, Gonzaga and Southern California) will be played at home or on a neutral court. The toughest true road game is probably at UAB, meaning it's possible Memphis could be favored in every contest.

2. UCLA: Arron Afflalo turned pro prematurely, and that wasn't a plus for UCLA. But the Bruins should still challenge for a national title thanks to a roster featuring Darren Collison, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Josh Shipp and Kevin Love.

3. Kansas: Brandon Rush probably won't miss any meaningful games because of his torn ACL, and when he's on the court with Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins and Darrell Arthur, the Jayhawks will possess one of the most talented lineups in the nation.

4. North Carolina: There are few programs capable of not slipping when a lottery pick like Brandan Wright bolts for the NBA. But North Carolina is one of those programs thanks to coach Roy Williams, not to mention All-American candidates Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson.

5. Louisville: Derrick Caracter's knee surgery shouldn't affect his status. So assuming the sophomore doesn't relapse into a head case, the Cardinals are the pick to win the Big East, and perhaps more.

6. Tennessee: Bruce Pearl should finally have the numbers and size to play any way he wants. The guess here is it'll be fast and intense, and result in a bunch of wins.

7. Washington State: The Cougars won't surprise anybody this season. When they're good, everybody will know it's because they were supposed to be good.

8. Georgetown: In the spirit of full disclosure, had Jeff Green rejoined Roy Hibbert at Georgetown, the Hoyas would've been atop these rankings.

9. Michigan State: The top five scorers are returning, and Tom Izzo is still the coach. What's not to like?

10. Marquette: Dominic James' wise decision to return to school ensures Marquette's talented trio of guards will play together for at least another season.

11. Indiana: Got an e-mail from a guy named Nate the other day. He wanted to know why I hadn't written about Eric Gordon, Indiana's incoming star, lately. The answer: I'm just saving all my words for that first trip to Illinois. Boy, I can't wait.

12. Villanova: Once Jay Wright finishes with USA Basketball this summer, he'll turn his full attention toward winning a Big East title, which should be possible.

13. Duke: Even when the Blue Devils are down, they really don't slip too far. Remember that before claiming they're ranked too high, and note that Kyle Singler is really, really good.

14. Oregon: Aaron Brooks is the only important part missing from that squad that played Florida tough in the Elite Eight last March.

15. Stanford: Some people remember the Cardinal as the team Louisville blasted in the NCAA Tournament. But I remember them beating UCLA, USC, Oregon and Washington State, which is why I'm not certain this isn't too low for Stanford.

16. Alabama: Clearly I didn't learn my lesson last season. But if Ron Steele is healthy (and he should be), I'm picking the Crimson Tide to win the SEC's Western Division.

17. Washington: Everybody not named Spencer Hawes is back. That's why the Huskies will be back in the NCAA Tournament.

18. Gonzaga: A core of Josh Heytvelt, Matt Bouldin and Jeremy Pargo is what Mark Few will win with for at least the next two years.

19. Arkansas: John Pelphrey inherited about the best situation any coach could ever want, specifically an NCAA Tournament team expected to return intact.

20. Southern California: This was a Final Four team had Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt remained in college. Instead, Tim Floyd is left wondering how good O.J. Mayo can make his Trojans.

21. Southern Illinois: The Salukis are good every season, even when nobody thinks they're going to be good. So everybody else can overlook them again if they want, but count me among the converted.

22. Texas A&M: Joseph Jones and DeAndre Jordan will be one of the best frontcourt duos in the country.

23. Arizona: Yes, this is the seventh Pac-10 team I have listed. I guess I really like that league.

24. Pittsburgh: The Panthers are similar to Southern Illinois in that regardless of what leaves, it's safe to assume they're going to be pretty good.

25. Butler: Coach Todd Lickliter is gone. But A.J. Graves and two more of the Bulldogs' top four scorers return from a Sweet 16 team, making Butler the easy pick in the Horizon League.

26. Kansas State: I loved this team when it seemed Bob Huggins would be the coach. But his departure and news that Bill Walker hasn't rehabbed well have me taking a wait-and-see approach.

Tiger Basketball Tickets On Sale

Tigers Basketball Tickets Go On Sale
Last Update: Jun 18, 2007 6:57 PM

Posted By: Jamie Griffin

University of Memphis

With Tiger Nation still buzzing about the addition of Georgetown to its already attractive 2007-08 schedule last week, the University of Memphis athletic department announced Monday that $100 terrace level season tickets at FedExForum are on sale. To order terrace level $100 season tickets, call the athletic ticket office at 678-2331.

For information on donor reserved seating, contact the Tiger Scholarship Fund office at 678-2334. The Tigers have 19 scheduled home dates at FedExForum in 2007-08, including contests against Arizona, Georgetown, Gonzaga and Tennessee. Memphis also hosts two rounds (four games) in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

“I believe this is one of the best deals around,” said Memphis head coach John Calipari. “To buy $100 season tickets for 19 home games to watch one of college basketball’s top teams, that’s less than buying a movie ticket. We are also planning some things for fans that purchase terrace level season tickets to make it an event for them.” The Tigers, ranked No. 1 in’s summer poll, return five starters from their 2006-07 squad that posted a 33-4 record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.

Memphis swept the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles for a second-straight year in 2006-07.

Former Tiger, NBAer Penny Hardaway Working Out with Tigers

Penny enjoys being involved with Tigers

Former Tiger Penny Hardaway has been working out and playing pickup games with members of the U of M team.

NBA career on hold, he's reconnecting with U of M

By Dan Wolken
June 18, 2007

Nearly every afternoon in January and February, Penny Hardaway would come to the Finch Center and quietly train for a return to the NBA. But with every weight Hardaway lifted and every basket he shot, he wasn't just inching closer to a return to professional basketball.

In a way, he was coming home.

After years of barely being involved in the University of Memphis basketball program, Hardaway is beginning the process of reconnecting with the school and perhaps laying the foundation for a more official capacity once his playing career is over.
"I'm going to be involved until I leave this earth, because this is where I went to school," Hardaway, who will be 36 next month, said. "This is where I'm from."

Several longtime Memphis supporters say that Hardaway has been around the program more over the past few months than he has at any time since playing his last college game in 1993.

Mostly, Hardaway said, that's a function of his NBA career, which took him to four All-Star appearances before a series of knee injuries that limited him to 37 games in 2004-05, then just four in 2005-06 and none last season.

After rehabbing in Miami and getting to "all the way back healthy," Hardaway moved back to Memphis. He bought a house in Southwind to make his primary residence and began working out at the Finch Center in early 2007, usually slipping out just as the Tigers began practice.

Then, Hardaway became even more visible during the NCAA Tournament, traveling to both New Orleans and San Antonio as the Tigers advanced to the Elite Eight.

"It was fun because I hadn't had the opportunity to do that since I've been in the league," Hardaway said. "I didn't have the chance to go to any games, definitely didn't have the chance to go to NCAA games. And it was a fun experience for me to live that through them, with them, because I did the same thing they did, going to the Elite Eight. It's a magical run. It's a fun time of the year for everybody, and I was just glad to be around them."

And coach John Calipari certainly has no problem with Hardaway being around, playing pickup games and advising his players on what it takes to become a professional. Moreover, Hardaway has begun doing other things to help the program like purchasing equipment for the weight room.

"It's good for our guys to be around Penny," Calipari said. "Of all the guys from here who have gone to the NBA, Penny is someone I can count on."

The natural question is whether all this will lead to something more, whether Hardaway is headed toward some sort of official job with the program in the near or distant future. Hardaway refuses to directly address that issue, saying he's only concerned with playing in the NBA again.

"I'll talk to whoever is coaching at that time when I finally retire," Hardaway said. "Now I'm just trying to focus on getting back in the NBA and finishing up my career and trying to support them as much as I can while I'm doing my thing. After I retire, I'll try to figure out what I want to do from there."

And Hardaway is not eager to concede retirement.

Though he said he was healthy last season, Hardaway found a decided lack of interest in him from NBA teams, including the Grizzlies. Hardaway said he would have even taken a 10-day contract just to prove that he could play again but found no takers.

"I'm going to do a better job of marketing myself this summer," he said. "Last summer, I thought that because I was healthy teams would just bring me in. I was fooled by that because it didn't work like that. This summer I'm going to let everyone know I'm back and ready and if they need to see me, I'll do individual workouts and they can get a better look.

"It won't be anybody giving me anything or sympathy. I'm going to show them I can still play. It's just getting in the door."

As one foot tries to stop the NBA door from closing, the other seems to be leading him back to the Tigers.

UAB to Play @ Witchita State - Key RPI Game

From the Witchita Eagle

No headaches for WSU basketball

Hold the usual pain and suffering regarding Wichita State's men's basketball schedule.

It's done. It should be released this week. It went together quickly and somewhat painlessly, a contrast to recent seasons. Last season, WSU didn't add games with Syracuse and LSU until August. Former coach Mark Turgeon dreaded the challenges of mixing home games, good RPI games and road games into a worthy schedule.

"We're complete," coach Gregg Marshall said. "Maybe things just fell into place this year."

They certainly did. Home games against LSU and Wyoming were set in the Turgeon era. WSU travels to Appalachian State and UMKC. Baylor is the opening opponent in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.

The newest addition is a game against Alabama-Birmingham in late December at Koch Arena.

Marshall said he could not comment on details of the schedule until it is released.

Scheduling didn't cause Marshall much stress for two reasons. One, associate athletic director Brian Pracht handled much of the work to free Marshall's time during the move to a new job. Second, WSU is a more attractive opponent than in past seasons.

"We're not coming off a Sweet 16 team," Marshall said. "Outside looking in, this would probably be a good time to play Wichita State."

An alliance proposed --Here's how smoothly things went for WSU: UAB is coming to Koch Arena without demanding a return game, according to Blazers athletic director Brian Mackin.

WSU will pay UAB to play at Koch Arena, a practice common for lower-profile opponents.

"We looked at this as an opportunity go on the road and play a good opponent," Mackin said. "We just happened to have this date open. (Coach) Mike (Davis) isn't afraid to go on the road and play anybody."

Mackin, who said he didn't know the amount of the guarantee, said he thinks Conference USA and Missouri Valley Conference schools should do more scheduling.

From his perspective, it is difficult to get an SEC or ACC team to do a home-and-home series. A Valley team, in most cases, will be open to an even series and offer a solid RPI benefit.

The Valley finished sixth in the conference RPI rankings, according to C-USA finished 11th. Six Valley schools ranked in the top 100 and no Valley team ranked lower than No. 139. C-USA had only two (Memphis, Houston) in the top 100 and three 200 or lower.

"There are RPI reasons to play this game," Mackin said. "You have to keep that in mind."

UAB might be the toughest guarantee game in the nation next season. The Blazers went 15-16 last season and are expected to improve dramatically in Davis' second season. They add three transfers, including Robert Vaden, who followed Davis from Indiana. One Internet site ranked UAB's recruiting class No. 9 in the nation.

Memphis' Elite Overnight Camp (Recruiting Targets - Elliott Williams, Angel Garcia, Kenny Kadji, Leslie McDonald)

Budding hoop stars show for Cal camp
Four recruits demonstrate skills for Tiger coaches

By Dan Wolken
June 17, 2007

By the end of this weekend, University of Memphis coaches could very well have an idea of what their 2008 recruiting class might look like.

Three of the Tigers' top targets for the coming year -- St. George's guard Elliot Williams, wing forward Angel Garcia and center Kenny Kadji -- participated in Memphis' Elite Overnight Camp on Friday and Saturday, where they were able to showcase their skills in front of coach John Calipari.

In addition to Briarcrest guard Leslie McDonald, a class of 2009 recruit, the Elite Camp included four potential McDonald's All-Americans.

Though Calipari can't comment on unsigned recruits per NCAA rules, Memphis would clearly be happy to sign Williams, Garcia and Kadji and complete a recruiting class that already includes Philadelphia twin forwards Marcus and Markeiff Morris.

Though Williams' name is familiar locally, Garcia and Kadji's participation lends credence to the idea that Memphis isn't just a national program (as Calipari likes to say) but international.

Garcia, listed at 6-foot-10, is originally from Puerto Rico and in fact is leaving Memphis today for a two-month trip with his national team. After being discovered by a prep coach in Chicago, Garcia moved to the United States without speaking much English.

Both his language and basketball skills have developed rapidly in the past year, and Garcia is now one of the most highly sought-after big men in the country, ranked 33rd by

Garcia, whose long-range shooting and dribbling skills wowed observers in the Finch Center, said Saturday he was in no rush to make a college decision but mentioned Indiana, Florida and Louisville as schools he was considering.

"I have one more year to think about it," he said. "I feel comfortable here, real comfortable. I like the guys. They're real nice guys. I'm having fun. I think I fit in."

Kadji, a more conventional post player at 6-10 and 250 pounds, grew up in Cameroon and France. Kadji's family, which runs a sports academy in Cameroon, realized his basketball potential and found the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., through the Internet.

Since moving there in the fall of 2005, Kadji has been a highly-touted prospect and has risen to 21st in's latest rankings.

Matt Ramker, who runs the Florida Rams AAU program with which Kadji participates, said he is only considering Memphis, Kansas State and Florida. Ramker said Kadji will announce his decision on July 26 at a news conference in Las Vegas, where the Florida Rams will be playing in a tournament.

"He can play with his back to the basket or facing in certain situations," Ramker said. "He's a very, very good shot blocker and rebounder, adequate shooter. He's got to develop his body a little bit."

Losing is Lost on Hard-Nosed Rose (and Other News)

Losing is lost on hard-nosed Rose

By Dan Wolken
June 17, 2007

In the months before point guard Derrick Rose arrived on the University of Memphis campus, there was a lot of conversation among Tiger fans about his athleticism, his quickness and his unselfishness, almost growing to mythic proportions.
But the one attribute Rose barely got credit for is his competitiveness.

Fast forward to Wednesday night, as the Tigers gathered at the Finch Center for a series of pickup games. In the final game of the night, the squad led by Rose fell behind, then made a mini-comeback but still needed a stop to get the ball back with a chance to tie.

They never got that chance because Chris Douglas-Roberts made a ridiculous 17-foot jumper with two people hanging on him to end the game. As players ran into the locker room, Rose took the basketball and slammed it off the glass, then stewed on the court for a couple minutes until he finally was able to cool his emotions.

If that's how Rose reacts to losing a pickup game, you can only imagine what he's like when something significant is on the line.

"I've seen him cry after losing an AAU game," coach John Calipari said. "It's amazing."

Though it's certainly natural for a player of Rose's ability to feel like he should win at everything he does, you almost wanted to pull him aside Wednesday and tell him, It's only a pickup game, kid.

Then again, his instincts -- even if they are a little overamped for a June pickup game -- will fit right in on a team that values competitiveness and toughness over just about any other attribute.

"He's a competitor," Antonio Anderson said. "You've got to learn that about the kid. He's young, he knows what he's coming into, and he's enjoying it with us. He loves playing. We all like that about him."

Welcome back

Forward Shawn Taggart didn't need a doctor to tell him he was ready to play basketball again.

"I cleared myself," said Taggart, a 6-11 Iowa State transfer who has finally recovered from ACL surgery last October.

Now, the next step for Taggart is regaining his stamina, which isn't easy given how limited his cardiovascular activity was for nearly eight months. Though Taggart said he is still shaking off rust, his play in early pickup games has been more than adequate given the circumstances of his injury.

"I came in last summer, and we all played together, so I already felt like I was part of the team," Taggart said. "But yeah, I'm out here to condition. Coach Cal says he doesn't care about (scoring) as long as I'm out here running as hard as I can. I'm trying to get my wind back."

Schedule talk

By adding a home game with Georgetown next season, Memphis can finally start to get some home-road balance into its non-conference schedule.

Last season, all of Memphis' marquee games -- Tennessee, Arizona and Gonzaga -- were on the road while the Cincinnati and Ole Miss games were at home. In 2007-08, Memphis will have Arizona, Tennessee, Gonzaga and Georgetown at home with only Cincinnati on the road.

But things will start to even out the year after that. In 2008-09, Memphis will play at Georgetown, at Gonzaga and presumably at Tennessee (if the schools agree to continue that series).

And though he declined to reveal specifics, Calipari said he's got two top-five programs lined up to start home-and-home series in 2008-09 -- both beginning at FedExForum -- in addition to home games with Cincinnati and Ole Miss.

Plus, Memphis will be in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando that season with teams like Maryland, Michigan State, Oklahoma State and Wichita State.

Sell, sell, sell

One of Calipari's biggest concerns is filling the upper deck at FedExForum, which had swaths of empty seats for most of last season. To that end, Memphis is going to announce in the coming weeks several initiatives to make upper-level seats more attractive.

"We're going to do some things upstairs to make that its own event," Calipari said. "There's going to be some high-dollar giveaways just in the upper deck. We're going to do some fun things to make this not only the game but an environment where families want to go. You can come to our games cheaper than going to a movie."

Contact Dan Wolken at 529-2365

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Tiger Season Gets Hotter With Hoyas

Tiger season gets hotter with Hoyas

By Dan Wolken
June 15, 2007

The University of Memphis added another marquee game to its 2007-08 basketball schedule Thursday by signing a four-year, home-and-home deal with Georgetown beginning Dec. 22 at FedExForum.

To accommodate the schedule shift, Memphis paid $50,000 to buy out of this year's previously scheduled road game at Ole Miss. Then, Memphis agreed to a new two-year series with the Rebels that will begin in Memphis in 2008-09, with the 2009-10 return game in Oxford.

Memphis will play Georgetown four times over the next five years, rekindling a series that was played every season from 1993-1998. And it comes at a time when both programs are at the peak of their powers.
Memphis is the preseason No. 1 or No. 2 team in nearly every national poll, while Georgetown returns most of its Final Four team from last season and could challenge for the No. 1 spot if Jeff Green pulls out of the NBA Draft and returns to school.

Adding Georgetown to a schedule with Tennessee, Gonzaga and Arizona means Memphis could play four of the top 20 teams in the country at home. Plus, Memphis will play USC (another preseason top-25 team) in the Jimmy V. Classic in New York and could face teams like Connecticut and Kentucky in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

"This is that year where if you don't get season tickets, you're not getting in the building," coach John Calipari said.

Because Memphis had scheduled 31 regular-season games, there was no room when Calipari was presented with the opportunity to play Georgetown.

But in analyzing the benefits of a series with the Hoyas -- revenue from one more home game, a probable spike in season ticket sales, another national television game and the chance to showcase Memphis in the talent-rich Washington, D.C., area -- Calipari determined it was necessary to adjust the schedule.

"The opportunity to get a team like Georgetown in our building this year with the team I have and the fact they'd play us for four seasons when scheduling those kinds of teams, how difficult is that? It's impossible," Calipari said. "So for us to be able to do that, I couldn't pass on it. They wanted to open at our place first, and I know all four will be nationally televised. I told them, if you're willing to go four years, I'll figure out how."

For that part, Memphis turned to Ole Miss, which last fall asked the Tigers to postpone the schools' football series. And because of the dates Memphis had secured, it could switch out the Ole Miss game for Georgetown without moving other non-conference games.

Instead of buying out of the Ole Miss series completely, Memphis offered the opportunity to continue in 2008-09 at FedExForum for a $50,000 guarantee.

"R.C. and I have a great relationship," Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone said. "And he called me and asked me if there was a way to adjust, rearrange, do something with the game. ... R.C. has been very good to us in the sense of our football contract and trying to work with some of our needs. I told him we'd do everything we could, and then it was a matter of how to do it because finding a replacement game is not easy to do. And we were able to work out all those things."

Meanwhile, Memphis has agreed to a contract with Siena to replace the game Holy Cross dropped out of last month. Siena, which plays in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, finished 20-12 last season and was ranked No. 128 in the Ratings Percentage Index last season.

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Reporter Scott Cacciola contributed to this story.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

'Nation's Toughest Schedule'; Memphis Skeds Home & Home w/ Georgetown

'Nation's toughest schedule'
Memphis skeds home-and-home with Georgetown
Posted: Thursday June 14, 2007 7:26PM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Memphis coach John Calipari heard enough about how weak his Tigers' schedule became once they began Conference USA play. He is doing everything possible to counter that complaint.

Memphis announced Thursday a four-game, home-and-home series with Georgetown over the next five years with the first game being played at the Tigers' FedExForum.

The Tigers will postpone a game with Mississippi one season so the series can begin this year. Memphis won't play the Rebels again until 2008-09 in Memphis and 2009-10 in Oxford.

"This Georgetown game adds to what was already a great home schedule," Calipari said in a statement. "I, too, want to thank Mississippi head coach Andy Kennedy for working with us, and I appreciate his help."

Georgetown lost to Ohio State in the Final Four and finished 30-7 last season. Memphis went 33-4, losing in the regional semifinals for a second straight season.

Memphis will visit Georgetown in the 2008-09 season with the series taking a break in 2009-10 before the Hoyas visit Memphis in 2010-11 with the Tigers going back to Georgetown the next season.

"This Georgetown game is a big event, and I'm sure it will be on national television, which allows us to showcase our university, city and basketball program," Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson said.

The Tigers already will be hosting Arizona, Tennessee and Gonzaga this season, which should seriously boost a strength of schedule that ranked 39th nationally at the end of last season. Calipari said it may be the best home schedule in Memphis history.

"With our home games along with playing in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and the Jimmy V Classic, we quite possibly have the nation's toughest schedule," Calipari said.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Memphis Adds 4 Yr Series vs. Georgetown, Drops Ole Miss for Next Season

Memphis adds four-year series vs. Hoyas, drops Rebels from upcoming season

By Andy Katz
Updated: June 14, 2007, 4:55 PM ET

Memphis continued to create the toughest nonconference schedule for next season by adding Georgetown in a likely top five matchup.

The problem is the game pushed the Tigers one over the NCAA maximum number of games. If a team is in a tournament, which Memphis is next season, schools can only play in 31 games. The addition of the Hoyas came at the expense of Ole Miss, pushing off the Rebels for a year and removing their lone marquee home game next season.

Memphis, which will return six of its top seven scorers from an Elite Eight team and adds one of the top five players in the class of 2007 in guard Derrick Rose, agreed to a four-year home-and-home deal Thursday with Georgetown. The first game with the Hoyas will be Dec. 22 on ESPN.

Georgetown could return nine of its top 10 scorers from last season's Final Four team if junior forward Jeff Green decides to return to school. He has until Monday's deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft. Even without Green, the Hoyas are expected to be a top three Big East team and a likely top 10 team in December with the return of junior center Roy Hibbert.

Memphis now has a home slate of games against Georgetown, Arizona, Gonzaga and Tennessee. It also has a neutral site game against USC in New York in the Jimmy V Classic and likely two neutral games in New York in the Coaches vs. Cancer benefit tournament in November against Oklahoma. Memphis could also play either Kentucky or Connecticut, assuming all four win their two-game, four-team tournaments to make it to New York.

Both Memphis coach John Calipari and athletic director R.C. Johnson said it was going to be the best schedule in the country, and one "heckuva home schedule."

But it came at the expense of Ole Miss.

Memphis nearly enacted a buyout clause in the contract with Ole Miss and paid the Rebels $50,000 to get out of the final year of the contract. Kentucky did just that with UMass earlier this spring, opting to pay a buyout rather than play in Boston against Minutemen in the return of a home-and-home set up by former coach Tubby Smith.

Memphis and Ole Miss put off the game a year. But in theory, they are essentially canceling the last game of the series because Johnson and Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone agreed to a new home-and-home series that starts in Memphis in 2008-09. The Tigers would then play in Oxford, Miss., in 2009-10. The reason Ole Miss didn't press Memphis is the Rebels had asked Memphis last year to drop the final two years of a four-year football contract.

So, Memphis and Ole Miss will play the final year of a football deal in Memphis this season and then instead of a four-year deal, the contract has been reduced to two years with a home-and-home series starting in Oxford, Miss., in 2008.

Johnson said the Tigers wanted to start this new series with the Rebels at home because they would be going to Georgetown in 2008-09. That sounds great for Memphis but what about Ole Miss? The Memphis game was going to be the marquee event on the nonconference schedule for Andy Kennedy in his second season in Oxford.

"R.C. helped us out in football," Boone said. "But this was going to be a good RPI game for us."

Kennedy said Calipari asked him if he wanted to put the game off since the Tigers were likely a top-ranked team. But Kennedy said he told him no initially.

"It's a high-profile game in our building," Kennedy said.

The game was originally scheduled for Dec. 1 in Oxford. Ole Miss is playing a rebuilding Winthrop in Jackson, Miss., in the San Juan Shootout and has a few other non-descript games the Rebels are finalizing.

"We can't replace a team like Memphis on our schedule," Kennedy said.

Calipari isn't fretting the scheduling change since he claims that schools like Ole Miss, Tennessee and Arkansas all want to play in Memphis for recruiting purposes. So, instead of always helping them out, he seeks out national games like Arizona, Gonzaga and now Georgetown. Although, next season, with Tennessee the SEC favorite and a likely top 10 team, the Tigers do have a national game against one of their local, regional rivals.

As for Ole Miss, the Rebels are now searching for a marquee game. Anyone interested? Call Kennedy.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Derrick Rose Arrives on Campus

Touted Tiger PG arrives on campus
Classes, basketball duties keeping Rose on the go

By Dan Wolken, Memphis Commercial Appeal
June 12, 2007

Derrick Rose had been in Memphis for roughly 24 hours, and he still hadn't picked up a basketball. But he had unpacked his suitcase, decorated his new room and, most importantly, gone to his first class.

Indeed, Rose, the phenom point guard from Chicago, officially became a college student at the University of Memphis on Monday. He got his books. He received his ID. He took a physical. He went to two classes and even got homework assignments.

"It was really tight," Rose said. "Something new. Made me feel like I was a grownup."

Though Rose is already a grownup in the basketball world -- it's possible he'd be a top-five pick in this year's NBA Draft if not for the league's age minimum -- he's been through plenty of new experiences in the past two days alone.

One of them was a 7 a.m. weightlifting session at the Finch Center. Though Rose is a naturally stout 6-foot-4, spending time with director of performance enhancement Richard Hogans will be a big part of his summer preparation.

"He struggled a little bit," coach John Calipari said, laughing. "He's never lifted weights before. Can you believe that, with his body?"

After that, Rose went to classes in communications and gender in society. As much publicity as Rose has received over the past year, it's no surprise his classmates recognized him.

"I came in and people were looking at me. I guess they knew who I am," Rose said. "I'm kind of used to it."

Rose said he's also used to being away from home, especially with all the traveling he's done on the AAU circuit last summer and playing in high school all-star games this spring.

Then again, he hasn't had much time to get homesick. After arriving by plane on Sunday, Rose went straight to Wal-Mart to buy some necessities like bed linens before moving into the basketball team's on-campus house.

"I love it here," Rose said. "As soon as I get homesick, I'll probably call my mother or my girlfriend or somebody who can make me feel good."

As Rose's college education begins this week, so does his basketball education. With most of the Tiger players in town for the first session of summer school, Rose said he was looking forward to the pick-up games at Finch Center where he'll get a chance to mesh with teammates.

"I'm a quick learner," Rose said. "Hopefully it will only take a couple practices for me to be in the flow. I want to work on my all-around game -- mentally, my passing, dribbling, shooting, everything."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Memphis Noted as "Mid-Major" in Article on Recruiting, Ranked #1 in Class

Mid-Majors Attract Their Share of Talent

Justin Young Basketball Recruiting Senior Writer

The mid-major programs are catching up with the high-majors on the recruiting trail.
A number of nationally ranked players in the class of 2007 found homes outside of the power conferences.

A number of players heading to the mid-majors will be bracket busters come March.

Mid-major rank (National rank)
1. Memphis (10)
2. Gonzaga (17)
3. New Mexico State
4. Pepperdine
5. Va. Commonwealth
6. Creighton
8. Butler
9. Dayton
10. Jackson State
11. UTEP
12. New Mexico
13. MTSU
14. Xavier
15. UAB
16. Charlotte
17. SMU
18. UMass
19. Colorado State
20. Temple

Memphis, Gonzaga lead the charge
The Memphis Tigers claim the top spot in the mid-major team rankings. Already boasting the nation's No. 10 recruiting class overall, we realize John Calipari's club isn't necessarily a mid-major program. However, Conference USA – the league in which his team competes – is not a major power.

Derrick Rose, the nation's best point guard, is the headliner for Memphis' class and should shine from the outset. The Chicago-area star is the most dynamic guard to come out of the prep ranks in some time. Conference foes won't have the speed, athleticism or size to defend Rose. He should thrive in Conference USA.

Rose isn't the only big-time player coming to Memphis. New Jersey wing Jeff Robinson fits perfectly with the Tigers' style of play. He's big, strong, athletic and really improved as a perimeter threat.

Gonzaga checks in at No. 17 nationally and second overall in the mid-major recruiting rankings. Mark Few and his staff reeled in a trio of standout high school players. Five-star prospect Austin Daye is a sharp-shooting wing from California. He picked Gonzaga over offers from several Pac-10 schools.

In-state guard Steven Gray is one of the top sleepers in the West despite being ranked 61st overall in the class of 2007. Four-star center Robert Sacre is a force down low and compares well with Gonzaga big men of the past.

Jerry Meyer's take: Not only do Memphis and Gonzaga have talented classes, but their recruits fill needs as well. … Reggie Theus makes a first-year recruiting statement by landing a deep class that includes top-50 prospect Herb Pope. … P'Allen Stinnett should bring some excitement to the Creighton program. … Lon Kruger beat out Kentucky for five-star center Beas Hamga. … While everyone thought four-star prospect Jenirro Bush was reclassifying, Jackson State convinced him to stay close to home. … Although Middle Tennessee doesn't have a prospect in the Rivals150, the Blue Raiders landed three three-star players who were just on the outside of the Rivals150.

Best of the Mid-majors
Best perimeter scorer: Tyrone Shelley, Pepperdine
Best low post scorer: Herb Pope, New Mexico State
Best passer: Joey Rodriguez, Virginia Commonwealth
Best shooter: Austin Daye, Gonzaga
Best rebounder: Beas Hamga, UNLV
Best shot-blocker: Beas Hamga, UNLV
Best defender: Lance Kearse, Virginia Commonwealth
Most versatile: Jenirro Bush, Jackson State
Best in the clutch: Derrick Rose, Memphis
Best basketball IQ: Derrick Rose, Memphis
Best pro prospect: Derrick Rose, Memphis
Best interview: P'Allen Stinnett, Creighton
Best speed: Derrick Rose, Memphis
Best hands: Kenton Walker, Creghton
Best motor: Matt Howard, Butler
Best strength: Robert Sacre, Gonzaga
Best leaper: Chris Wright, Dayton
Impact player: Derrick Rose, Memphis
Biggest sleeper: Zach Hahn, Butler

Five top incoming mid-major prospects

Despite signing with a mid-major conference school, Rose would have likely been the top prospect in whichever conference he picked. Rose oozes pro potential, and with the athletes around him at Memphis he should continue to shine.

Daye, the son of former NBA player Darren Daye, has the prototypical pro length at the wing. He'll need to improve his body, but in terms of raw skill Daye is one of the best players on the West Coast.

Five-star center Beas Hamga surprised many when he chose UNLV.
UNLV snagged a big-time recruit in Beas Hamga. The 7-footer picked the Running Rebels over the likes of Kentucky, Indiana and New Mexico. Hamga is a defensive specialist and will only improve over time.

New Mexico State landed a surprise commitment when Pittsburgh-area forward Herb Pope picked Reggie Theus's program over a number of high-major schools. The four-star wing forward was shot in the spring and is still recovering from his injuries.

Robinson, a four-star athlete from New Jersey, was lured away from Big East country. His quick springs, physical game, defensive ability and perimeter shot make him a major coup for Memphis.

Keep an eye on us

Gonzaga has long been the powerhouse in the West Coast Conference, but don't be surprised to see Pepperdine make a push in conference play. The Waves inked a class perfect for Vance Walburg.

San Diego native Tyrone Shelley is a scorer supreme. He could be one of the best scorers in the nation in the near future. He has that kind of potential, and the program will help him in that regard.

Virginia Commonwealth fans can breathe easy now because Anthony Grant is coming back to Richmond. The Rams inked a strong group, and most of the recruits hail from Florida. Point guard Joey Rodriguez, scoring guard Ed Nixon and Myk Brown form a tremendous backcourt trio.

Dayton inked one of the premiere athletes in the nation in high-flyer Chris Wright. He'll be on a number of highlight reels while in college. Butler has a great 1-2 punch in Matt Howard - a Rivals150 forward - and point guard Zach Hahn.

Inside the numbers

There are 20 players inside the Rivals150 headed to mid-major conference schools. Three five-star players (Rose, Daye and Hamga) opted for non-power conference schools. Ten four-star players are bound for mid-majors, while six Rivals150 three-star prospects inked with those programs.

The Atlantic 10 claims five teams in the top 20 mid-major rankings. Conference USA stakes claim to four. The Mountain West has three teams in the rankings, while the West Coast Conference comes in with a pair. The WAC, Colonial, Missouri Valley, Horizon, SWAC and Sun Belt all have one team in the rankings.

From the Fresno Bee "Tre'Von Willis May Seek Move With Fresno Bulldogs"

Willis may seek move with 'Dogs
Ex-Washington High star weighs transfer options

By Daniel Lyght / The Fresno Bee
06/12/07 04:18:56

Tre'Von Willis spoke with Fresno State basketball coaches Monday for the first time since leaving Memphis, and said the school is among his top transfer choices.

Willis, the Central Section's career leading scoring while at Washington High, spoke with Bulldogs coaches Steve Cleveland and Senque Carey on Monday and said there is a possibility he would meet with Cleveland next week. He still is interested in other schools, and said he will visit UNLV this week.

As for the Bulldogs, Willis said: "I think I'd fit in good at Fresno State. ... They have a nice offense I'd like to be in."

Two other positives for the Bulldogs, Willis said, were that Fresno is his hometown and his half-brother, Dwight O'Neil, is on the team.

Willis is transferring from Memphis after one season and received his release from the school Thursday. He averaged 2.6 points and 6.1 minutes per game for the Tigers. In his final year at Washington he averaged 23.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists.

If he does join Fresno State, he'd take the final available scholarship. The Bulldogs lost three seniors this season -- Ja'Vance Coleman, Quinton Hosley and Renato Cesar -- and signed prep-school players Brandon Webster and Nedeljko Golubovic, and Arizona State transfer Sylvester Seay in May. USC transfer Kevin Galloway was dismissed from the team because of academics, leaving a scholarship open after junior Dominic McGuire signed with an agent in preparation for the NBA draft.

With Bulldogs point guard Kevin Bell's eligibility ending after this season, Willis could fill that slot.

Though Willis said he's unsure of his future destination, one thing was certain: He wouldn't rush the decision.

"It could be soon, it could be next month," he said of his decision. "I'm going to do what's best for me.

"I'm looking for a place to run, be a big part of the offense."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6400 or

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Siena (RPI #128 '06/'07) To Play at Memphis in Early January

Siena to play Memphis next season

June 11, 2007 at 1:33 pm by Pete Iorizzo, Staff writer
Albany (NY) Times Union

Siena reached an agreement Monday to play a men’s basketball game this coming season against Memphis, expected one of the top three teams in preseason polls.

The game will be played in early January in Memphis, where the Tigers have won 29 consecutive games.

Memphis, a member of Conference USA, posted a 33-4 record last season, when it reached the Elite Eight for the second consecutive year under coach John Calipari. The Tigers figure to receive strong consideration for the No. 1 slot in The Associated Press preseason poll.

This game adds to a Siena non-conference schedule upgraded considerably from last season. This year the Saints also face Stanford, of the Pacific-10 Conference, and Saint Joseph’s, of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Other non-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference games include matchups with the University at Albany, James Madison, Holy Cross and Dartmouth. Siena also plans to participate in ESPNU BracketBusters and the National Invitation Tournament Season Tip-Off.

Siena can schedule one more game. The Saints are believed to be seeking a series with a regional team to begin on the road during the 2007-08 season.

“This is something great for our program,” Siena coach Fran McCaffery said. “This gives us a chance to see just how far our team has come.”

The agreement, signed Monday morning by McCaffery, calls for just one game, so Memphis will not visit Albany to play at Times Union Center during the 2008-09 season.