Penny Hardway is heading back home to coach his alma mater.
The University of Memphis introduced Hardaway as its new men’s basketball coach during a Tuesday morning news conference at the Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center.
Hardaway, 46, becomes the school’s 19th all-time coach and the third alumnus to lead the men’s basketball program, joining Wayne Yates (1974-79) and Larry Finch (1986-97).
Hardaway, who starred as a player at Memphis from 1991 to ’93, has been in consideration for the job even before the team fired Tubby Smith last week. Smith led the Tigers to a 21-13 record this year, his second season as head coach, but the team did not make any postseason tournaments, and attendance has been down overall.
Hardaway, was drafted in third overall pick in 1993 and played in the NBA from 1993 to 2008 — with Orlando, Phoenix, New York and Miami. He was a four-time NBA All-Star.
The hope now is that Hardaway will be able to lure top recruits to play for the University of Memphis, including some of the top-ranked players that he currently coaches at East High School and on the Team Penny AAU squad. According to ESPN, Hardaway has ties to some of the top players in the area, including top-ranked junior James Wiseman.
Even with no college coaching experience, the hiring of Hardaway is a gamble the University of Memphis had to take to stay relevant in the landscape of college basketball.