Join Today


PJ Haggerty has always lived for the big moments. His high school coach says he can be Memphis basketball’s next big star.

Haggerty steps into his biggest spotlight yet at Memphis next season. But that just may be where he shines brightest. (Image Credit: Tulsa Athletics)
By Roman Cleary - May 4, 2024, 12:04 pm - 1 comments

PJ Haggerty came so close so many times.

Night after night during his junior and senior years, the Crosby, Texas native vied to break his hometown high school’s single-game scoring record of 51 points. He stared this goal in the face on numerous occasions with multiple 40-plus point performances.

One of those outings came on Nov. 19, 2021, when Haggerty’s Cougars took on Richardson—led by Cason Wallace (who became an NBA lottery pick with the Oklahoma City Thunder) and Rylan Griffen (who helped Alabama make the 2024 Final Four). Haggerty dropped 46 points against the Eagles, who eventually had no choice but to trap the 6-foot-3 guard at halfcourt just to slow him down. The strategy paid off, since Crosby fell short by seven points and Haggerty fell short by six.

He also put up similar numbers against lesser opponents more often than not. But his longtime head coach Edwin Egans normally took him off the floor before he could approach the record, as the game would be well in hand. Haggerty, who averaged 28 points per game in his senior campaign, eventually shed some humor on the matter.

“He said, ‘Yeah, coach. I did my research. I understand why you wanted to take me out.’ I said, ‘Why’s that?’ He says, ‘You didn’t want me to break your 51-point record,'” Egans told Bluff City Media. “I had the record of 51 points [as a player], so he’s thinking I’m trying to stop him from breaking my record…It was span out of humor, though.

“[Haggerty’s] a jokester. He has this serious face all the time. But if he gets to know you and there’s trust, he’s a great kid to be around. You won’t be able to shut him up.”

The jokes, however, were no more during a game against B.F. Terry on Nov. 23, 2021. Fellow senior Sean Elkinton—one of Crosby’s other key players—sat out with an injury, which meant Haggerty had even bigger shoes to fill than normal. He took the challenge in stride, though, propelling the Cougars to an 84-81 win in overtime.

The Class of 2022 graduate finally broke Egans’ record in the process with a 57-point outing. Haggerty’s new mark still stands more than two years later.

Haggerty’s high school ascension

Egans, who’s coached at Crosby for 27 years (head boy’s basketball coach since 2009), now calls Haggerty the greatest boy’s player in school history. But he probably couldn’t have predicted what the new Memphis Tiger would become at first.

“I wish I could tell you that from the day he walked in the gym, I thought this kid was gonna be the player he is now and the player I envision him becoming as an NBA player. [But] I can’t say it was that,” Egans said. “I saw a kid that had a strong passion and love for the game. I saw a kid with a strong work ethic. I saw a gym rat. And the more he stayed in the gym, I just saw a kid who developed and wanted to be coached.

“[His] parents allowed me to coach him a certain way. [His] mom’s an educator and [his] dad works in real estate. Both of them are hard, blue-collar workers, so they understand that PJ needs direction like every kid. They didn’t put him on a pedestal. They wanted him to work, and that’s what he did.”

Haggerty constantly worked to get better under Egans. He never settled for a certain level, skill set or basketball IQ. He always strived for more.

He oftentimes couldn’t find the improvement he was looking for during Crosby’s regular two-hour practices. But luckily for him, Egans would begin a 30-minute timer after practices so players can shoot around and get some extra work in, just like he still does today. Haggerty usually stayed for all 1,800 seconds, and most of his teammates followed suit before too long.

“I can’t think of many days that he wasn’t the one that was staying—him and maybe another guy. I had to talk to him one day and I was telling him, ‘Man, you can become as great as you wanna be. But you gotta bring those guys along with you.’ And he says, ‘I got you coach,'” Egans said. “The next practice, you see six or seven guys stay. And then before you know it, we have the majority of the guys—eight or nine guys—staying just because PJ said stay. He’s a leader of young men…He leads by example.”

Haggerty—even though he graduated two years ago—remains a leader at Crosby. Whenever he’s back in town, one of his first calls is usually Egans to get a workout in. He also helps mold both current and future Cougars like Egans’ son, Evan, who’s a 6-foot guard entering his junior season.

“[Haggerty] and my son will be in the gym. He’s talking to him, and telling him the tricks of the trade—things he can take advantage of, things he needs to improve on. Whatever drills we’re doing, he pulls him in there and has him right behind him,” Egans said. “[Haggerty’s] a kid that uplifts others. He makes others better—not only on the court, but off the court.”

Stepping up when it matters most

Haggerty isn’t scared of big challenges or pressure-filled moments. In fact, he lives for them to a degree.

He put that on full, tangible display with his ridiculous box scores against top-tier high school competition. But his intangibles only doubled down his limitless tenacity.

“A lot of times, we would put him on the [other team’s] secondary offensive player. We would start him there. And then when the game got to the fourth quarter and some guy had it going, PJ would come to the sideline and say, ‘Coach, let me have him,'” Egans said. “He would become our best defender, and it would get to where he was locking that guy down. The competitive side is the biggest thing [for Haggerty].”

Haggerty, who turned 20 last month, translated his dominance to the collegiate level during his redshirt freshman year at Tulsa. He averaged 21.2 points (13th in Division I), 5.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game for the 16-15 Golden Hurricane in 2023-24. The one blemish is that he shot 49.3% from the field and 28.9% from 3-point range, but Egans says those numbers were marred by a wrist injury.

Just like he did in high school, Haggerty shined brightest in the biggest moments. He put his future college coach Penny Hardaway on high notice by recording 27 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals during a 78-75 loss to No. 15 Memphis on Jan. 4—a game Tulsa could’ve won if not for Jahvon Quinerly’s near buzzer-beating bomb in the final seconds.

The Golden Hurricane got the job done against No. 24 South Florida on March 9, however, which brought the Bulls’ 14-game winning streak to an end. Haggerty led the way with 32 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.

Tulsa went on to lose to East Carolina in its American Athletic Conference (AAC) Tournament opener five days later. But Haggerty went out with a blaze of glory, compiling 29 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds in the 84-79 defeat.

Haggerty’s biggest stage yet

The AAC Freshman of the Year became Memphis’ first commitment from the transfer portal on April 4, and the Tigers have only loaded up around him since then.

Fellow star guards Colby Rogers (Wichita State) and Tyrese Hunter (Texas) joined the program shortly after Haggerty, as have other solid pieces like Illinois center Dain Dainja, SMU big Tyreek Smith and George Mason guard Baraka Okojie. The Tigers can also return star forward David Jones, the NCAA’s 7th-leading scorer last year, if he withdraws from the NBA Draft by May 29.

2024-25 is a pivotal season for Hardaway, who must guide Memphis back to the NCAA Tournament to avoid really hard conversations or questions next offseason. Haggerty is widely expected to be the seventh-year coach’s lead horse in this dire situation.

It’s a kind of spot that’s overwhelmed many players in the past, but Egans doubts Haggerty will join that long list.

“Any time we ever played a team or a game of high magnitude, [Haggerty] was at his best. He’s a person that doesn’t have to tell you, ‘Hey look, I think I’m great,’ but he believes 100% of it,” Egans said. “He’s gonna rise up [at Memphis]. I don’t doubt that one bit.”


You can subscribe to more Insider content to get even more Memphis Grizzlies and Memphis Tigers coverage here.

Bluff City Media now covers every sport in the city of Memphis. Follow our Tigers, Grizzlies, and Soccer coverage on Twitter. 

Follow Bluff City Media on Instagram and TikTok - and subscribe to our Bluff City Media YouTube Channel

Make sure you check out all our podcasts that focus on Grizzlies, Tigers, Soccer, and more!

More From Bluff City Media


Leave a Reply

  1. US Dollar 2,000 in a Single Online Day Due to its position, the United States offers a plethora of opportunities for those cx10 seeking employment. With so many options accessible, it might be difficult to know where to start. You may choose the ideal online housekeeping strategy with the tr-02 help of this post.

    Begin here>>>>>>>>>>>>>>