Memphis’ lone returnee Jourdain ready to teach new Tigers ‘the culture’

By , Daily Memphian Updated: June 05, 2024 5:09 PM CT | Published: June 05, 2024 4:00 AM CT

As the days have gone by, Nicholas Jourdain has continued to uncover portions of the vision he’d seen more than a year ago.

Throughout much of the first 2½ months of Memphis’ offseason, Jourdain and coach Penny Hardaway had been two of the few individuals roaming the Tigers’ Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center.

That meant one-on-one workouts multiple times a week, with Hardaway spending hours in the gym with the 6-foot-9 forward.

Hardaway says new Tigers are ‘ready to come in and play together’

“He was just saying, like, ‘Dad, Penny gave me just this little hint right here,’” said Romane Jourdain, the younger Jourdain’s father. “‘And now I see it.’”

This is what first drew Nicholas Jourdain to Memphis: a confidence in Hardaway’s ability to develop him into the type of player he always felt he could become.

Despite the Tigers’ situation seeming disastrous months ago, Jourdain never lost sight of the bigger picture. This is why, even after a turbulent season in which the team climbed as high as No. 10 in the country only to collapse and miss the NCAA Tournament altogether, Jourdain kept his faith in Hardaway.

“Going through the season we went through,” said Jourdain, who averaged 6.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in the 2023-24 season, “it definitely built a stronger relationship, a stronger bond.”

It’s a trust and respect that goes both ways, too — one that started when Hardaway chose to make the then-relatively under-the-radar Jourdain the first pillar of his team a season ago.

Memphis picks up commitment from guard Daniel Vieira-Tuck

Now, the player and coach’s investment in each other could pay off in a big way with Jourdain the only scholarship returnee heading into what will undoubtedly be the most critical season of Hardaway’s tenure. Jourdain appears poised to take the next step, both as a player and leader. That might just be instrumental for Hardaway and his program.

“It’s a blessing to help guide my new teammates, my new brothers in this journey,” Jourdain said. “You know, teach them what Memphis Basketball is all about, teach them the culture and give Coach Penny a helping hand.”


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Parth Upadhyaya

Parth Upadhyaya

Parth Upadhyaya covers the Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team. A Raleigh, N.C., native and a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Media and Journalism, Upadhyaya is a longtime college hoops junkie. Prior to joining The Daily Memphian in 2022, he covered high school sports in western Pennsylvania for the Beaver County Times and Penn State football for the Centre Daily Times.


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