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VOL. 132 | NO. 77 | Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Memphis Basketball Adding More Junior College Players; Bill Self Mum on K.J. Lawson

By Don Wade

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With only two returning scholarship players from last season’s team, University of Memphis basketball coach Tubby Smith continues to mine the junior college ranks for players he hopes can contribute immediately.

With six players having declared their intention to transfer and only two scholarship players returning from last season’s team, University of Memphis coach Tubby Smith has been looking to bolster the roster with junior college players. 

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

Raynere Thornton, a forward from Gordon State, announced his commitment to the Tigers on Twitter over the weekend: “This has been a long time coming, but I’m happy to say that I will continue my basketball career at the University of Memphis.”

Thornton averaged 10.9 points, 11.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists last season. He was ranked as the 48th junior college prospect in the country. He joins two first-team junior college All-Americans: Georgia Highlands College forward Kyvon Davenport, and Eastern Florida State College guard Kareem Brewton.

Since the Tigers’ season ended, six players have announced they were transferring from the program – most notably brothers Dedric and K.J. Lawson, who are going to Kansas, and Markel Crawford, who as a senior graduate transfer will be eligible to play immediately wherever he goes.

NCAA Rules Give Bill Self Cover

By now, pretty much every Memphis basketball fan has seen or heard about K.J. Lawson’s self-obsessed Snapchat video, the one where he looked into the camera and said: “This is what we do when we leave Tubby. (Expletive) Tubby.”

K.J. Lawson eventually issued an apology via social media, but with his earlier double-bird to his former coach, it’s hard to take the apology seriously.

More interesting would be any reaction from his new coach, the Jayhawks’ Bill Self. But NCAA rules prevent coaches from discussing incoming, unsigned transfers. So as reported by the Topeka Capital-Journal, Self was able to safely dodge all K.J. questions at the team’s recent end-of-season banquet.

But bank on this: Self will have more K.J. issues going forward. 

Football Team Wrapping up Spring Practice

The Tigers were to hold their last practice on Monday, April 17. The previous Friday night they held their annual spring game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

With Riley Ferguson returning as the starting quarterback, much attention goes to the battle for the No. 2 quarterback spot. Redshirt freshman David Moore completed 10 of 14 passes for 190 yards with a 50-yard touchdown pass. Brady Davis had a good moment or two, but was only 12 of 20 for 114 yards and threw two picks.

So, the competition is ongoing.

Among the running backs, Darrell Henderson had a 52-yard TD run (he’s got speed to burn) and Patrick Taylor Jr. had a 50-yard run to the end zone.

Wide receiver Anthony Miller picked up where he left off from last season by catching three passes for 90 yards and one score. Mechane Slade made five receptions for 83 yards and a TD.

No. 11 Houston Takes Two of Three from Memphis Baseball Team

The Memphis baseball team fell to 3-6 in American Athletic Conference play after losing two of three games to the 11th-ranked Houston Cougars this past weekend at FedExPark. Memphis is 21-15 overall.

In Sunday’s finale, the Tigers used a seven-run sixth inning to go ahead 7-5. But Houston put up four runs in the seventh and held on for a 9-8 victory. Outfielder Chris Carrier had given Memphis the lead with a grand slam. Carrier’s six home runs is tied for seventh in the AAC.

Starting pitcher Connor Alexander is tied for second in the league in wins with five and closer Colton Hathcock has nine saves, ranking second in the AAC.

Memphis has a pair of mid-week games vs. Arkansas, playing at 6:35 p.m. in Fayetteville on Tuesday, April 18, and at 6:35 p.m. the following night in North Little Rock.

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