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Tigers Basketball Insider: Former Memphis players chase pro dreams
Damaria Franklin, Kendric Davis and Kao Akobundu-Ehiogu. (The Daily Memphian file)

Damaria Franklin, Kendric Davis and Kao Akobundu-Ehiogu. (The Daily Memphian file)

Welcome to this week’s Tigers Basketball Insider. Below you’ll find the latest news and analysis from The Daily Memphian’s Parth Upadhyaya, John Martin, Tim Buckley and Geoff Calkins.

At least a few members of last season’s Memphis Tigers team will have an opportunity to make a living playing basketball.

Coach Penny Hardaway has waved goodbye to 11 scholarship players from the Tigers’ 2022-23 squad. Of that group, six — Kendric Davis, DeAndre Williams, Alex Lomax, Damaria Franklin, Elijah McCadden and Kao Akobundu-Ehiogu — are almost certainly done playing collegiately.


Davis and Akobundu-Ehiogu declared for the 2023 NBA Draft and signed with agents, and Franklin also signed with an agent. The futures of Williams, Lomax and McCadden are unclear, though all three are more than qualified to at least play overseas.

Here’s where these former Tigers are in their pursuits of professional careers:

Kendric Davis

Davis’ post-Memphis journey has been well-documented.

The 6-foot former All-American guard announced via Twitter on April 7 that he’d declared for the NBA draft. This came three weeks after Davis concluded his lone season with the Tigers — a campaign in which he averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game.

Davis led Memphis to a 26-9 overall record, an AAC Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament appearance in his fifth and final collegiate season.


Weeks after the Tigers’ 2022-23 season ended, Davis signed with agent Corey Barker of One Legacy Sports Management. Barker also represents Grizzlies rookie Kenneth Lofton Jr.

Davis turned heads at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in April and the NBA G League Elite Camp earlier this month to earn an invite to last week’s NBA Draft Combine. He scored 10 points to go with two rebounds in the first of his two scrimmages at the combine, while finishing with seven points, two rebounds, one assist and two steals in the second.

Davis also worked out for the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks prior to the NBA G League Elite Camp and NBA Draft Combine, according to Barker.

Though Davis still isn’t listed on most NBA mock drafts, his speed and shiftiness caught the attention of NBA teams last week. His recorded time in the 3/4th-court sprint at the G League Elite Camp was 3.17 seconds, which is faster than at least four — Cam Whitmore, Anthony Black, Jarace Walker and Taylor Hendricks — projected top 10 picks.

It seems likely that Davis will be picked up by an NBA team on a two-way deal if he goes undrafted. This would give him an opportunity to work his way toward potentially earning a standard contract by the end of the 2023-24 NBA season, similarly to the way Lofton did with the Grizzlies.

Kao Akobundu-Ehiogu

Akobundu-Ehiogu’s road to a pro career is a bit more complicated than Davis’.

The 6-10 forward averaged just 2.6 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 10.5 minutes per game for Memphis last season in his only year with the program. He started nine consecutive games from mid-January to mid-February while starter Malcolm Dandridge was sidelined with a Grade 2 ankle sprain but played sparingly once Dandridge returned.

Akobundu-Ehiogu signed with agent Scott Nichols of Rise Management in late April. Nichols also represents former Tigers guard Lester Quinones, who went undrafted in 2022 but was named the G League’s Most Improved Player this past season.

Though Akobundu-Ehiogu didn’t excel offensively for the Tigers in 2022-23, NBA teams have been intrigued by his athleticism and length. The Lagos, Nigeria, native boasts a 47.5-inch vertical and 7-foot-3 wing span.

Akobundu-Ehiogu didn’t earn an invite to the NBA Draft Combine or the NBA G League Elite Camp. But, according to his cousin, Solomon Ehiogu, Akobundu-Ehiogu has already worked out for the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks.

Chances Akobundu-Ehiogu gets drafted are slim, and it may also be difficult for him to get picked up on a two-way deal.

Akobundu-Ehiogu could still very well receive a contract to play in the NBA Summer League, though, which would give him an opportunity to compete against NBA rookies, sophomores and G League players to demonstrate he can hold his own at the next level.

Damaria Franklin

Franklin is looking to make up for lost time.

Circumstances largely out of Franklin’s control negatively impacted his lone season with Memphis. The 6-3 guard missed the first 10 games of the 2022-23 campaign due to an eligibility issue after transferring into the Tigers’ program from Illinois-Chicago.

Franklin didn’t look entirely comfortable until late in the season after being thrown into the mix midway through. He averaged 5.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game in the 25 games in which he appeared.

The Chicago native signed with Intrepid Sports Management earlier this month, but it is unclear which agent he is being represented by.

While Franklin’s shooting numbers were subpar last season — 39.8% from the field and 27.5% from 3 — he showed at times that he’s capable of getting to his spots on the court. It will be Franklin’s athleticism and ability to create his own shot that will likely earn him a spot on a pro roster overseas.

More from your Insider:

Beale Street Boys look to put Memphis ‘on the map’ in The Basketball Tournament

The Beale Street Boys team will become the first to represent Memphis in the The Basketball Tournament since 2019.

Kendric Davis: ‘I’m a Tiger for life, so I’m grateful for that’

Former University of Memphis basketball star Kendric Davis spoke on a variety of topics during an appearance on 92.9 FM ESPN’s “Jason & John Show.”

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