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Villanova transfer guard TJ Bamba includes Memphis in final 6 schools.

Can Bamba be the “3-and-D” piece Memphis has been looking for? (Image Credit: Villanova Athletics)
By Roman Cleary - April 19, 2024, 4:11 pm - 1 comments

A veteran power-league starter might spend his final year of eligibility in the 901.

Former Villanova guard TJ Bamba included Memphis in his final six schools list Friday afternoon. The other five finalists are Kentucky, Louisville, Florida, Oregon and Stanford. Bamba averaged 10.1 points and 3.6 rebounds for the Wildcats last season. He also shot 37% from 3-point range on 3.7 attempts per game.

The 6-foot-5 senior started 33 games in 2023-24, and helped Kyle Neptune’s club earn a National Invitational Tournament (NIT) bid. But Villanova fell to VCU 70-61 in the first round.

Bamba, who received a 95.1 adjusted defensive rating on, played a huge role in the Wildcats finishing this season as the No. 21 scoring defense in Division I. They also ranked No. 13 in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom, and held their opponents to 40.9% shooting from the field (28th in the country).

Villanova met Penny Hardaway’s team in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game last November, and the Wildcats obliterated Memphis 79-63 after leading by as many as 35 points in the second half. The Tigers shot just 35% from the field and 28% from 3-point range against Neptune’s defense. Bamba finished the contest with 13 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists while shooting 3-for-8 from the perimeter.

The 23-year-old spent his first three collegiate seasons at Washington State, where he put up a career-high 15.8 points per game in 2022-23. Bamba and the Cougars advanced to back-to-back NITs in 2022 and 2023, but they never made it further than the semifinals in either campaign. He enters next season still in search of his first NCAA Tournament appearance.

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 eight players this offseason with transfers PJ Haggerty, Dain Dainja and Colby Rogers onboard for next year. Bamba would likely start in the backcourt next to Haggerty and Rogers if he chooses Memphis.

Forward Nick Jourdain, a rising senior, publicly announced his return to Memphis back in February. The Tigers can also bring back David Jones, Joe Cooper and Noah Stansbury. Four-star guard Jared Harris is the program’s only incoming high school recruit as of now.

Besides Bamba, Memphis has reached out to the following players in the transfer 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 last weekend)

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 (Memphis visit in the works)

Alabama guard Kris Parker

Jackson State guard Ken Evans Jr.

George Mason guard Baraka Okojie (visiting Memphis this weekend)


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