Tubby Smith and the University of Memphis Tigers are beginning to build momentum with several recruits on the eve of Memphis Madness, which will officially kickoff the start of his second season as head men’s basketball coach. The Tigers 2018 recruiting class currently includes a commitment from three-star 7-foot-4 Findlay Prep center Connor Vanover, who is widely considered to be one of the best shooting big man in the Class of 2018.
Now the Tigers staff has turned their attention to landing one of the top available point guards in the nation who just so happens to live right in their backyard.
Photo by: Nikki Boertman, Commercial Appeal
The Tigers hosted four-star Cordova High School point guard Tyler Harris this past weekend on an official visit at the University of Memphis campus. His visit included a tour of the Tigers state-of-the-art Bill and Nancy Laurie Men’s basketball practice facility, which is scheduled to open next month, and a chance to sit courtside alongside area high school coaches and watch the Tigers go through a simulated practice at the Tubby Smith Basketball Coaches clinic. Harris’ visit stayed at the world-renowned Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. Memphis assistant coach Joe Esposito was Tyler’s primary host on the visit.
Harris, the 2017 Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year, is widely considered to be one of the best point guards to come from Memphis in recent memory along with 2016 and 2017 Tennessee Mr. Basketball Alex Lomax, who has also been one of Memphis’ primary targets for the their 2018 recruiting class
We recently had an opportunity to speak with Cordova High School Coach Terrance Scales, who has coached Tyler for the past two seasons, and he had this to say about his sharp-shooting guard, “I feel he’s the best guard in Memphis, and I feel that Tyler and Darius Garland (Nashville) are the two of best players in the state of Tennessee along with Alex Lomax”.
In Coach Scales opinion, Harris who led the Wolves to the TSSAA State Championship game in 2016, is among the elite players in America, though his recent play in the summer catipulted him to be considered a top 70 player by rivals.com “He’s a top 30 player in the country, I don’t know where ESPN or rivals ranks him, but if he’s not a top 30 kid in the country, then I just don’t know basketball. Coach Scales goes on to add, “He’s probably the best shooter I’ve ever coached. He shoots it well on the catch, shoots it well off of the dribble, or coming off of screens. He handles the ball beautifully, he’s got great court vision, if you hug him he can blow by you. He also finishes extremely well for his size due to his athleticism”.
Tyler Harris also possess a deadly mid-range game, feathery touch, and a vast array of floaters that allows him to finish in the paint over bigger defenders.
If the Tigers are able to secure the services of the speedy Cordova High guard, his commitment could potentially become the program’s most important local recruiting victory since landing Joe Jackson in 2010. Despite the recent attention that Harris has received nationally, locally he has long been considered a tremendous talent and arrived at Cordova High after transferring from Ridgeway High School with a tremendous pedigree that dates back to his days as a terror on the AAU circuit with the Memphis War Eagles.
Tyler Harris scores career high 48 points- Video Courtesy of UltimateMemphisPreps
According to Coach Scales, “All credit goes to Tyler and his dad Coach Frank who has done a great job of instilling a great work ethic in Tyler, you can tell he’s been schooled for a long time, and we are reaping the benefits”.
Harris is also expected to be in attendance at Memphid Madness, the Tigers annual first public practice of the season, which will be hosted on tomorrow October 7 at the FedEx Forum. In the coming days we will be following Joe Esposito via twitter as we look for a trademark #Boom from the Memphis Tigers assistant coach, as that hashtag will be the signal that the Memphis Tigers have landed yet another big-time commitment.
Nationally ranked Mississippi Native Robert Woodard II could be the Tigers answer at small forward
The Memphis Tigers also have an upcoming official visit with four-star small forward Robert Woodard II, the 2017 Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year. The extremely athletic and chiseled Woodard who weighs close to 220-pounds, was awarded Mississippi’s player of the year after averaging 25.2 points, 13.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 3 blocks per game as a junior.
Robert Woodard Fab 48 Mixtape- Courtesy of D1 Circuit
Photo by: Chris Todd, Clarion-Ledger
The Tigers will need to beat out the likes of Mississippi State and Alabama if they are to land a commitment from the Coloumus, Mississippi native. Woodard’s father, Robert Woodard Sr., not former LSU and Gulfport native Chris Jackson, is the all-time leading scorer in the state of Mississippi with 4,274 points. He played for the Mississippi State Bulldogs from 1986-1990 and even has an award, the Robert Woodard Hustle Award, named after him at his alma mater.
Butch Pierre’s addition already paying dividends
Earlier this summer, longtime assistant basketball coach Butch Pierre was named the Memphis’ Director of Player Personnel, replacing Keelon Lawson who departed along with his son’s KJ and Dedric Lawson, who both transferred to Kansas. The hire of Pierre is paying immediate dividends, as he is likely the biggest reason the Tigers have a shot at landing Woordard II, considering Pierre played at Mississippi State from 1980-84, and served as an assistant coach from 1984-86, where he was likely instrumental in helping the Bulldogs land the services of Woodard Sr.
Photo by Justice Bolden, TalkBack Live: (Left to Right, TalkBack Live contributor Leon Taylor and Assistant Coach Butch Pierre)
Tyler Harris and Robert Woodard II teamed up on the AAU circuit with Memphis-based Under Armour sponsored Team Thad, where they captured the 2017 Fab 48 championship in Las Vegas, after compiling a record of 8-0 during the final tournament of the July evaluation period.
Photo by Andrew Force: prephoops.com
Harris was named the tournament MVP cementing his legacy as one of the best point guards in the country, while Woodard II punished opponents at the rim, on the glass, and in the midrange area displaying the skills that have college programs like Memphis drooling.
Pair of 2019 Prospects will visit the University of Memphis for the Tigers upcoming home football game against with Navy
6-foot-8 Class of 2019 small forward T.J. Bickerstaff will unofficially visit the University of Memphis this Saturday for the Tiger football teams next home game against Navy.
Bickerstaff, who attends Sandy Creek High School in Georgia and played on the summer circuit with Team Charlotte, is a player who is likely to move into the top 100 in the Class of 2019. He was recently named the MVP of the Big Shots SE Top 100 camp which was attended by ESPN analyst Paul Biancardi.
TJ Bickerstaff Highlights
At 6’8 Bickerstaff’s intriguing package includes his tremendous length for a wing player combined with his guard-like skills. Bickerstaff has a number of offers from high major programs vying for his services including the likes of UConn, Clemson, DePaul and UAB among several others.
6-foot-5, 180-pound four-star combo guard Jaykwon Walton, who transferred to George Washington Carver High School in Montgomery, Alabama this past season, will also be visiting Memphis for the upcoming Navy football. Walton is considered to be one of the top wing players in the the Class of 2019.
Click to Watch Jaykwon Walton’s Junior Highlights
Boyce Set to Announce His College Decision
Ryan Boyce a 6-foot-6 senior who transferred from Houston High School to East High School following his junior season will announce his college decision on Friday October 13. Boyce is considered to be one of the most explosive wings in the Mid-South and is rated a four-star prospect by ESPN and the number 141 rated prospect in the country by both 247 Sports and Rivals.com. He is at his best in transition where he can use his athleticism to make plays at the rim and also defensively where his timing, length, and quickness give him the potential to be a lockdown defender at the next level.
Watch Ryan Boyce Highlights Courtesy of Mykal Anthony
At one time Florida was thought to be in the lead for his services, and as recently as a few weeks ago he announced that his college choices would come down to Memphis, SMU, and Florida. However, after announcing he would re-open his recruitment to all suitors UAB has moved firmly into the picture as of late and is reportedly thought to be the school most likely to land the high flying senior forward. Nonetheless, Boyce’s decision is less than 48 hours away.
For the latest on Memphis Tigers basketball recruiting visit Talkbacklive.org, or for the latest from Talkback Live contributor Justice Bolden follow him via twitter @JusticeSBolden