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Penny Hardaway Moves In As An Elite Recruiter

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NCAA Basketball: Memphis at Cincinnati
Mar 2, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Memphis Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway wears his Beats headphones as he watches warmups prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Fifth Third Arena. 
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

With the addition of Precious Achiuwa, Memphis likely has the top class in the country.

Penny Hardaway only has one year under his belt but he’s recruiting as well as anyone.

It’s not the first time this has happened of course. We’ve seen guys show up and have big success in recruiting, and a lot of them have cheated to do it. Take Will Wade for instance, who appears to have engaged in some funny business at LSU if testimony in the recent corruption trials are to be believed. Then there was the Fab Five at Michigan and Dana Kirk back in the day at Memphis.

We’re not saying Penny is cheating; honestly we don't think he has to. He’s obviously a draw and has things to offer that few other coaches can.

What we are saying is two things: first that hot recruiting doesn't always last and second what you do with what you have is more important than just getting great players. We still don’t really know how good a coach Hardaway is, much less understand his people skills, which are essential to every aspect of his job.

Hardaway’s recruiting rivalry is likely to be more with Kentucky than Duke. First, John Calipari used to coach at Memphis and isn’t particularly popular there anymore. And second, he is notably thin-skinned where Coach K tends to be far more cautious about how he talks about people and other schools than is Calipari.

There’s also a couple of other things to keep in mind: there are a lot of really good players and all three schools will get their share. Secondly, with one-and-done on the way out, coaches will have to adapt once again to a new environment and no one in coaching, on any level, has proven more adaptable than Mike Krzyzewski.

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