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5-star high school recruit Jayden Quaintance to visit Memphis basketball, won’t consider Arkansas and coach John Calipari

Penny Hardaway doesn’t recruit high schoolers too often anymore, but Quaintance is obviously a reasonable exception. (Image Credit: USA Basketball/Alex Shigio)
By Roman Cleary - April 23, 2024, 4:51 pm - 1 comments

It’s no secret to any Memphis basketball fan that Penny Hardaway lives and dies by the transfer portal these days.

The seventh-year coach has already put together quite the portal class this month. Since April 4, the Tigers have added Tulsa guard PJ Haggerty, Illinois center Dain Dainja, Wichita State guard Colby Rogers, Texas guard Tyrese Hunter and George Mason guard Baraka Okojie. Two of them (Rogers and Hunter) have just one year of eligibility remaining and four of them (Haggerty, Dainja, Rogers and Hunter) are at least 20 years old.

Memphis could get even older as well if it acquires Villanova wing TJ Bamba or Ole Miss center (and former Tiger) Moussa Cisse, who both have a year of eligibility remaining. But perhaps a shot of youth wouldn’t hurt so much. After all, the veteran-laden Tigers in 2023-24 are responsible for one of the worst collapses in program history. Experience and pedigree go a long way in building a winning team, but too much of it can actually hurt you as evidenced by Hardaway’s sixth group at Memphis.

That’s where 16-year-old Jayden Quaintance comes in. The 6-foot-9 center will reportedly visit Memphis next week, according to 247Sports’ Eric Bossi. Quaintance was supposed to be on campus this weekend, but that visit was postponed and replaced by a trip to Arizona State. Hardaway and his staff, meanwhile, hosted Bamba instead.

The former Kentucky commit is the No. 8 prospect in the Class of 2024 on 247Sports’ rankings after reclassifying from the Class of 2025 last summer. Many suspected he would follow new Arkansas coach John Calipari once the 65-year-old made his move from UK to Fayetteville official.

But Quaintance reportedly has other plans. Bossi reported last Tuesday afternoon that the 5-star recruit has eliminated the Razorbacks from consideration. His recruitment is largely centered around Memphis and Louisville, which Quaintance visited last week.

With both Arkansas and Kentucky out of the picture, the Tigers’ chances at securing the Word of God Christian Academy star seem realistic considering Hardaway’s ability to earn commitments during on-campus visits. In saying that, however, Quaintance’s visit being postponed to next week doesn’t sound like encouraging news for Memphis.

The Cleveland native, who’s the youngest McDonald’s All-American in history, would be a huge addition to Memphis’ frontcourt that only includes Dainja and forward Nick Jourdain at the moment. He’d also likely be a long-term option for the Tigers despite his undeniable status as an NBA prospect.

Quaintance won’t turn 17 until July, which means he isn’t draft-eligible until 2026 due to the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement that states a player can’t enter the draft unless he’ll be 19 at some point during his rookie season. So, chances are he’ll play college basketball for two seasons.

Memphis is expected to lose Jahvon Quinerly, Nae’Qwan Tomlin, Caleb Mills, Jordan Brown, Jayden Hardaway and Malcolm Dandridge due to expired eligibility. It’s also losing Jonathan Pierre, Jayhlon Young, Carl Cherenfant, Ashton Hardaway and Jaykwon Walton to the transfer portal, so Penny Hardaway must replace at least six players this offseason with Haggerty, Dainja, Rogers, Hunter and Okojie onboard for next year.

Jourdain, a rising senior, publicly announced his return to Memphis back in February. The Tigers can also bring back star forward David Jones, who declared for the 2024 NBA Draft while maintaining his college eligibility last Saturday. Jones has until May 29 to withdraw his name from the draft and return to school. Walk-on guards Joe Cooper and Noah Stansbury could also come back next season.

Quaintance would join 4-star guard Jared Harris in Memphis’ high school recruiting class if he chooses the Tigers. They’d likely be the program’s only high school recruits this year, as Hardaway and his staff are looking towards the transfer portal to fill out the rest of the Tigers’ roster.

Memphis has reached out to the following players in the portal:

Southeastern Louisiana guard Roger McFarlane

Texas State forward Brandon Love

BYU center Abou Ousmane

Louisiana-Monroe forward Nika Metskhvarishvili

North Texas forward Aaron Scott (visited Memphis earlier this month)

Creighton forward Johnathan Lawson

FIU guard Arturo Dean (Memphis visit postponed)

North Texas guard John Buggs III (Memphis visit postponed)

Morehead State guard Mark Freeman

Alabama guard Kris Parker

Jackson State guard Ken Evans Jr.

Villanova guard TJ Bamba (Memphis is one of six finalists)

Ole Miss center Moussa Cisse


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