Longtime Memphis basketball fans said this could be the most talented team since 2008 Final Four squad, and now a favorite to win the school’s first national title.
MEMPHIS, Tennessee — “I can tell you today that I think we are going to win it all,” Longtime Memphis basketball supporter Harold Byrd said Thursday.
That’s the enthusiasm bursting through Byrd and other Tigers fans.
“We’ve had an elite program at the University of Memphis since the 1950’s. But this team here could match any we’ve ever had,” Byrd added.
The Bank of Bartlett founder said the sky’s the limit for Tigers after star Emoni Bates secured the school’s second number one recruiting class in three years.
Coach Penny Hardaway also added fellow retired NBA standout Rasheed Wallace to his coaching staff.
“Not only the top class in the country, getting international headlines – but also the top coaching staff in the country,” Byrd said. “What a day for Memphis!”
Byrd said the newfound hoops hype also makes the University of Memphis more of a destination.
“I think you are going to see enrollment go up. I think you are going to see donations go up,” Byrd said.
Players like Bates, fellow top recruit Jalen Duren, and other U of M players can now also get paid from their name, image, and likeness. That gives Memphis – and its local corporate leaders with deep pockets – a distinct advantage.
“Now we have all these other opportunities for people to come forward – I think it’s going to just be unbelievable,” Byrd said. “I think it’s going to be good for the players. They are going to compensated like they always should have been.”
“So far just a few months into this thing, Memphis is a school that has benefited the most,” 92.9 ESPN host Gary Parrish added.
Parrish said with Memphis’ roster of young talent and returning talent secured, they’re now the must-see team heading into 2022.
“I don’t think there’s any question the most interesting story in college basketball is what is going to happen at Memphis,” Parrish said.