Penny's Recruiting Pitch? We Will Get You NBA Ready
It's hard to watch the NBA and not notice players who seemed to have found another gear once they reach the league. Notably players like Karl Anthony-Towns, Demarcus Cousins, Donovan Mitchell and Anthony Davis come to mind as players whose games seemed to be bridled in college but blossomed into something else once given free rein in the NBA. Even a player like Jaren Jackson Jr. has shown intricacies to his game in the Summer League that he didn't show or wasn't allowed to show at Michigan St.
Could this be because the players were held back by their coaches for one reason or another? Or could it also possibly correlate with the fact that so many high level athletes go to schools that are known for sending players to the NBA but truly aren't equipped to actually develop them. For Coach Penny Hardaway and his staff that includes former NBA player Mike Miller and former NBA player and Coach Of The Year Sam Mitchell, he believes that he has the tools to prepare players for the next level.
"We hope that kids will say that this is an NBA roster of coaches that have been where they want to go," said Coach Hardaway. "We can teach you how to be a pro on and off the court and go further than that. That's all that we can hope for. We know that the other teams have history of putting more guys in the league over the last 5-10 years so it's more appealing to go to those schools but but hopefully they'll respect what we can do as a staff for them and their games."
Coach Hardaway also acknowledged that often a coaches strongest recruiting tool are the actual players that he has already recruited to his school. He acknowledged this with the commitment of Ryan Boyce, who de-committed from UAB to walk-on for Memphis, as well as how it could happen with other recruits.
"It's very important. I've noticed with the top teams around the country where if you get one then kids recruit other kids, That's how it works," said the former All NBA Guard. "They go out and they're friends. They've been playing together since AAU or in All-Star games. or in USA Basketball, become friends and say wherever your'e going to go - I'm going to go. So If you get one it definitely could be an avalanche of kids to say hey, we want to go there as well."
On the possibility of kids that he has recruited planning on linking up with other top players at Memphis.
"With the caliber of kids that we are talking to now, pretty much all of them have that type of mentality with their friends where they want to play together and I think it's a good thing," Hardaway said. "They're kind of piggy-backing off of what the NBA is doing. They want to go to school and play together and play with kids that they've always played against and had a lot of respect for and want to play together in school."
On if he ever sees a potential NBA prospect in college that he felt like he could do more with if he had the opportunity to coach them.
"That's hard to say. You see kids in college that have been phenomenal talents," said Coach Hardaway. "Me and my staff feel like we can take any kid - especially one with 5-star talent and take him to the next level because we are teachers. We like to develop and that's what a kid is going to get when he comes here. Outside of the education aspect, the basketball side is what we do. We develop kids and get them better."