Evan Daniels tells the story because it’s a moment that showed him Penny Hardaway’s ability to connect to this generation of basketball players.
Daniels, the national recruiting director for 247 Sports, is also a member of the USA Basketball Committee. He was there when Hardaway shared his journey with 17 of the nation’s top recruits during a private meeting in Colorado last October at a USA Basketball junior national team mini-camp.
The central theme was how he went from unranked to just like all of them while playing at Treadwell High School in Memphis.
“We are in an age when attention spans don’t last and every single kid in that room was focused on Penny Hardaway, and listened to him,” Daniels said. “They sought out advice from him throughout the camp. They were engaged with him, and I think when you have a guy of that caliber, it draws that type of attention.”
Hardaway is adapting well to the instant gratification demands of the recruiting world, showing off the clout he developed in grassroots basketball with an initial recruiting haul that bodes well for Memphis.
Over the past week, Hardaway reeled in top 150 recruits Tyler Harris, Antwann Jones and Alex Lomax. He also added 6-foot-10 junior college prospect Isaiah Maurice, who played at Kansas State. It’s the Tigers’ first top 30 recruiting class since 2015.
Memphis is ranked No. 26 in the country by Rivals and No. 30 by 247 Sports. It’s also the highest-ranked class among first-year coaches this offseason and the top recruiting class in the American Athletic Conference.
“He’s already having success on the recruiting trail and he’s only been there a month,” Daniels said. “I’m not surprised he’s having recruiting success. In fact, I expect the recruiting success to not only continue, but to amplify.”