#119 Memphis Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Memphis Tigers
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #119
Conference Rank: #9 American
 Memphis Logo
The Memphis Tigers will have a new-look team in 2017-18 compared to what they had last season. All but two of the players who saw major minutes last season have departed, most by way of transfer. Tubby Smith will have his hands full with a team full of players who haven’t played much, if any, Division I basketball. Smith will have a couple of returning starters from last season, but everyone else in the rotation will be new arrivals as junior college imports or incoming freshmen. Last season’s team struggled to finish at .500 in conference play and elected not to play in the postseason. This season’s team will have an uphill battle just to get an invite to the postseason.
2016-17 Record: 19-13, 9-9
2016-17 Postseason:
Tubby Smith
Coach Record:
0-0 at Memphis, 576-289 overall
Who’s Out:
Memphis will experience quite a bit of turnover in 2017-18 as only two players who appeared in more than 15 games will return from last season. Standout brothers Dedric and K.J. Lawson both decided to transfer away from the program in April. Dedric is a former McDonald’s All-American who led the Tigers in points (19.2) and rebounds (9.9) per game last season. K.J. averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds, both top three marks on the team. Both players, and their father, were very vocal that Tubby Smith was the reason for their exit from the program.  Another starter, Markel Crawford, elected to graduate and transfer to Ole Miss. Crawford scored 12.8 points per game and was arguably the best outside shooter on Memphis last season. With these three starters gone, Memphis will have roughly 44 points per game from last season unaccounted for. Bench players Craig Randall, Keon Clergeot and Chad Rykhoek also transferred out of Memphis this offseason. Christian Kessee graduated after playing one season for Memphis as a grad transfer.
Who’s In:
With so many departures, Tubby Smith had to look to the junior college circuit to acquire players for this season. Mike Parks Jr, Kyvon Davenport, Raynere Thornton and Kareem Brewton all will join the Tigers this season after playing in junior college last season. Parks is a 6-9 forward who averaged 8.9 points on 70% shooting in his lone season at Southwest Mississippi. Davenport is a versatile 6-8 forward out of Georgia Highlands who averaged a double-double last season. Thornton is also a versatile 6-7 forward who had three triple-doubles while at Gordon State. Brewton is the lone guard of the group who can fill up the scoreboard, averaging 19.9 points at Eastern Florida State College. Memphis also has three true freshmen coming in with Jamal Johnson, Victor Enoh and David Nickelberry. Johnson is a three-star guard, while Enoh and Nickelberry are three-star forwards. Karim Sameh Azab, a 6-11 center from Egypt is also joining the program. Azab is a wildcard who could make a nice impact if he’s able to stay on the floor this season.
Who to Watch:
Only two players return from last season’s squad, but both are experienced starters. Jeremiah Martin was the starting point guard last season and led the team with 34.8 minutes per game. Martin will have to be a leader on and off the court for all of the new faces in the program. Martin led the team in assists last season and will need to develop a rapport with his new teammates. Jimario Rivers will be the lone senior in Memphis’ rotation. Rivers is a 6-8 forward who scored just 6.4 points per game last season. The Tigers will likely lean on him and his experience, meaning he will need to make more of an impact on the game. Even if Rivers is unable to be a scoring force, his senior leadership will still be crucial in the Memphis locker room.
Final Projection:
Tubby Smith will have quite a challenge ahead of him this season. Memphis will have to heavily rely on unexperienced players this season, most of which have never played together before. If the junior college transfers turn out to be quality players at this level, then the Tigers could still compete in the American Athletic Conference. However, if the Division I stage is too much for all the newcomers, it could be a very long season for the Tigers. The NCAA Tournament seems like a dream for this team and just making the NIT would be seen as a successful outcome.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Jeremiah Martin, Junior, Guard, 10.3 points per game

Kareem Brewton, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Raynere Thornton, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Jimario Rivers, Senior, Forward, 6.4 points per game
Mike Parks, Junior, Center, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.0 (160th in nation, 3rd in conference)

Scoring Defense: 70.7 (130, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.2 (183, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.3 (92, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.7 (312, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 29.5 (338, 11)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.3 (245, 8)
Rebound Margin: 0.3 (184, 8)
Assists Per Game: 15.9 (33, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.5 (46, 5)
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#142 Jamal Johnson