Memphis coach Penny Hardaway went 22-14 and led the Tigers to an NIT berth in his debut season. His biggest wins came on the recruiting trail.
Hardaway added the nation's No. 1 recruiting class by signing five top-60 prospects and seven top-115 players as measured by composite rankings of recruiting sites compiled by 247Sports.
That heralded class helps explain why Memphis is ranked 14th to start the season and is expected to contend for its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2014. Memphis has the highest preseason ranking of any team that failed to reach the NCAA Tournament last season.
Hardaway believes the Tigers ought to be ranked even higher.
''Obviously if it were another college, a bigger college, they would be ranked in the top five if they had the No. 1 recruiting class,'' Hardaway said last month, before the Top 25 was released. ''I guess it's just in their minds the inexperience of our staff on this level. But that's up to us, to make it different.''
Memphis' collection of freshmen features 7-foot-1 center James Wiseman, the No. 1 prospect in his class according to 247Sports. It also includes forwards Precious Achiua (15th in the 247Sports Composite) and D.J. Jeffries (52nd), guards Boogie Ellis (38th), Lester Quinones (58th) and Damion Baugh (115th) plus center Malcolm Dandridge (106th).