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Illinois forward Dain Dainja visits Memphis basketball

Memphis is conducting its first visit of the offseason. (Image Credit: Illinois Athletics)
By Roman Cleary - April 2, 2024, 2:38 pm - 1 comments

Dain Dainja, who entered the transfer portal less than 24 hours ago, is already making significant strides in finding his new home.

Sources confirm a report by On3’s Joe Tipton that Dainja is visiting Memphis today. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 38 appearances this season despite playing just 10.7 minutes per game. He put up 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per contest through 33 outings and 21 starts in 2022-23, during which he played 20.6 minutes per game.

Dainja, who started his collegiate career at Baylor, helped the Fighting Illini earn a Big Ten Tournament championship and a No. 3 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. He even recorded 21 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks on 9-for-9 shooting in Illinois’ March Madness opener against Morehead State. Brad Underwood’s club ultimately advanced to the Elite Eight before being trounced by top-seeded UConn last Saturday.

Head coach Penny Hardaway is losing both Jordan Brown and Malcolm Dandridge due to expired eligibility, so Dainja would likely have a wide-open opportunity for playing time if he chooses Memphis. He’d also have a good chance at producing the best statistics of his career while facing American Athletic Conference (AAC) competition compared to the Big Ten or Big 12. Dainja enters next season with one year of eligibility remaining.

Memphis will send off five other players—Jahvon Quinerly, Nae’Qwan Tomlin, Caleb Mills, Jaykwon Walton and Jayden Hardaway—thanks to expired eligibility. It’s also losing Jonathan Pierre, Jayhlon Young and Carl Cherenfant to the transfer portal, so Penny Hardaway must fill at least 10 roster spots this offseason.

Forward Nick Jourdain, a rising senior, publicly announced his return to Memphis back in February. But sources have recently indicated that he’s still deciding his plans for next year. The Tigers can also bring back David Jones, Joe Cooper, Ashton Hardaway and Noah Stansbury. Four-star high school recruit Jared Harris is the program’s only incoming player as of now.

Besides Dainja, Memphis has reached out to the following players in the transfer portal:

Michigan guard Dug McDaniel

Southeastern Louisiana guard Roger McFarlane

Texas State forward Brandon Love

Iona guard Greg Gordon

Michigan center Tarris Reed Jr.

UT-Martin guard Jordan Sears

BYU center Abou Ousmane

Wichita State guard Colby Rogers

James Madison guard Terrance Edwards Jr.

Drake forward Kevin Overton

Louisiana-Monroe forward Nika Metskhvarishvili

Saint Louis guard Gibson Jimerson

Tulsa guard PJ Haggerty

North Texas forward Aaron Scott


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