" PENNY HARDAWAY ISN’T GOING AWAY ANY TIME SOON
It is impossible not to notice Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway when he walks into a gym
For starters, he’s 6-foot-8 and still looks like he is in good enough shape to go out and play in an NBA game. He also happens to typically be flanked by Mike Miller, another recognizable 6-foot-8 former NBA player who is best known as the sniper that teamed up with LeBron.
But it’s more than that with Penny. Between the brand-new snapbacks, the multiple $3,000 Louis Vuitton backpacks he rotates through on the road, the suped-up Mercedes Sprinter Van he and his staff travels on and the Foamposites – the final release of his signature shoe line – that he wears, he is as recognizable as any coach in the gym.
And that certainly has helped play a role in his ability to get in the mix with just about any recruit that he wants at the high school level – Jalen Green, Terrence Clarke, Greg Brown.
Everyone knew he was going to land James Wiseman once he got the Memphis job, but what really made waves was the fact that the Tigers landed talents like Precious Achiuwa and Lester Quinones, highly-regarded recruits out of New York.
The key for the Tigers moving forward is going to be simple: Can Penny turn the talent he brings into his program into winners in college that get picked high in the NBA draft?
Remember, Josh Pastner was a promising recruiter at one point in his career. His first recruiting class included a five-star Memphis kid (Joe Jackson) and a five-star out-of-star recruit (Will Barton). Barton has turned into a good pro, but it took him two years to get to the NBA and he was the No. 40 pick when he eventually left. Jackson ended up spending four years in college. He’s never played an NBA game.
The difference between Coach K, John Calipari and the rest of college basketball is that those two consistently turn elite recruits into successful college players and early draft picks.
Penny will need to prove he can do the same."