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Tigers Basketball Insider: September a crucial recruiting month for Memphis
Camden's Billy Richmond #0 attempts a free throw against Bishop Gorman during a high school basketball game at the Hoophall Classic, Monday, January 16, 2023, in Springfield, MA. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Camden's Billy Richmond #0 attempts a free throw against Bishop Gorman during a high school basketball game at the Hoophall Classic, Monday, January 16, 2023, in Springfield, MA. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

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 and Tim Buckley. 

Traditional recruiting of high school prospects seems to matter less by the day in today’s college basketball world.

Freshmen don’t impact winning nearly as much as they did three years ago, before COVID-19 gave college players an additional year of eligibility and the NCAA began allowing players to transfer once without sitting out a season.


With the success coach Penny Hardaway had this offseason in the transfer portal — picking up eight transfers and at least four likely starters — the old way of recruiting is perhaps an even smaller talking point in Memphis than it is elsewhere.

But this upcoming recruiting cycle — the Class of 2024 — is different for the Tigers. It features two highly rated targets with deep Memphis ties: Billy Richmond III and Curtis Givens III.

Both Richmond and Givens are scheduled to take official visits to Memphis in the coming weeks, making September a crucial month for Hardaway and his staff to build a foundation for the program’s future.

Givens, a four-star point guard, is set to visit campus Sept. 22-23. Richmond, a four-star shooting guard, will be in town Sept. 29-31.

Richmond’s father, Billy Richmond Jr., played for Memphis under current Kentucky coach John Calipari from 2002-04. His mother, Kimberly Thomas, also attended the university. The younger Richmond played for East High before transferring last season to New Jersey’s Camden High.


Givens also played high school ball in Memphis — at Memphis University School — before transferring last season to Florida’s Montverde Academy. 

Both Richmond and Givens have seen their stock soar this summer, too, after being well outside the top 50 of their class just months ago. Richmond is currently ranked No. 34 in the 2024 class, according to 247 Sports’ composite rankings. Givens is No. 54.

The last time the Tigers got a hometown kid to stay home was three recruiting cycles ago, when Hardaway snagged a commitment from 2021 four-star guard Johnathan Lawson. 

Lawson (ranked No. 102 in his class) had the potential to be a solid player for Memphis before transferring to Creighton this offseason, sure. But it would be fair to say Richmond and Givens both have higher ceilings, with some believing Richmond has NBA potential.

So, while recruiting the transfer portal has to be Hardaway’s priority, landing Richmond and Givens should be up there, too.

The month of September has a chance to make the Tigers well-equipped for the future, while also strengthening the connection between the city’s team and the city itself.

More from your Insider:

Analysis: Which path forward will the stadiums deal take?

The city has several scenarios for how the stadium-funding debate could go moving forward.

Penny Hardaway talks Mikey Williams, DeAndre Williams at new Tom Lee Park court

The Memphis head coach took time out of what’s been a busy offseason for the Tigers to inaugurate the outdoor, technicolor basketball court at the newly renovated Tom Lee Park.

Martin: It’s time for Memphis basketball to cut ties with Mikey Williams

“If Williams doesn’t care ‘at all’ about his image, even as his own freedom is in jeopardy, do we really think he’s going to care about doing what’s best for a Tiger team that aspires to make a championship run next season?”

‘A legacy thing’: Joe Cooper to follow in stepfather’s footsteps at Memphis

Joe Cooper, the stepson of former Memphis forward Rodney Newsom, has walked on with the Tigers.

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