Penny Hardaway Expected to Become Memphis Coach First of Week

Former Tiger Star Poised to Lead Basketball Program

By Don Wade

The University of Memphis is expected to formally announce former Tiger great Penny Hardaway as the new men’s basketball coach early this week, now that Hardaway has finished coaching East High School in the state tournament.

East won its third straight title under Hardaway on Saturday. With that work done, Memphis and Hardaway are free to proceed with a new era of Tiger basketball.

Memphis fired second-year coach Tubby Smith last week after a 21-13 record this season, but a second straight season of failing to make the postseason amid dwindling attendance, modest recruiting and a general lack of excitement about the program.

Dan Wolken, a former Tiger beat writer who works for USA Today, tweeted on Sunday that Memphis is “targeting Tuesday for the Penny Hardaway festivities.”

Speculation also has ramped up about Hardaway’s staff. Former Grizzlies player Mike Miller is rumored to be a top candidate and so is a former Hardaway teammate at Memphis in Tony Madlock, who served as the interim coach at Ole Miss after Andy Kennedy’s resignation.

Wolken also said former John Calipari Memphis assistants Steve Roccaforte and Tony Barbee were “staff candidates.”

Roccaforte is associate head coach at Virginia Tech. Barbee is currently a Calipari assistant at Kentucky. Virginia Tech lost to Alabama in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky, a No. 5 seed, meets No. 9 seed Kansas State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday.