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A closer look at the 2020-21 Memphis Tigers basketball team


The Memphis basketball team got older and added experience after last season. 

But perhaps a more significant development is the increase in depth. Memphis opens the season at 1 p.m. Wednesday against Saint Mary's at the Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

Here is a closer look at the Tigers. 

D.J. Jeffries

The 6-foot-7 perimeter player is fully recovered from a partially torn PCL in his left knee that caused him to miss the final 12 games of his freshman season. Jeffries, identified by coach Penny Hardaway as the team's best overall player, will undoubtedly be crucial to whatever success Memphis has. The former Olive Branch star and preseason All-AAC selection could line up anywhere on the floor. Jeffries' best asset is his ability to score from any level. 

More: How D.J. Jeffries rediscovered his love for basketball

Jayden Hardaway

After appearing in 22 games as a redshirt freshman, Hardaway stands to once again provide the Tigers' backcourt with a quality option off the bench. The 6-5 coach's son can give the team valuable minutes and boasts the ability to defend and distribute when called upon. 

Alex Lomax

Lomax got off to a hot start a year ago, only to cool off down the stretch. As a junior, the 比特币合约交易地址_合约交homegrown talent is intent on providing more consistency. Lomax has always been a reliable point guard, but after using the offseason to slim down and improve his perimeter shot, he could wind up being the steady hand Memphis needs. 

Landers Nolley II

The Virginia Tech transfer is expected to step into the starting lineup and give the Tigers a major boost. From a scoring perspective, Nolley touts a lot of potential. The leading scorer for the Hokies last season, the 6-7 sophomore has shot the lights out since arriving on campus, Hardaway said. If Memphis can depend on him for anything close to the 15.5 points and 2.4 assists he averaged in the ACC, the Tigers will be in every game. 

More: Adding Landers Nolley II to the lineup bolsters Memphis' positionless concept

Boogie Ellis

After an up-and-down freshman campaign, Ellis will need to identify his role and settle in. It's expected the sophomore will vie for starting point guard duties. But for him to get there, he will have to prove he's a better facilitator than he was as a freshman. Ellis' unquestioned strong suit is his ability to create his own shot, either from outside or by penetrating. Because of that, he may be a better fit off the ball. 

More: Boogie Ellis took his disappointing freshman season hard. 'I never wanted to feel that way again'

Damion Baugh

Decision-making was the biggest problem for Baugh as a freshman last season. His 33.9% turnover rate highlighted a glaring weakness. But, he also showed flashes of big-time promise. A tenacious defender, Baugh averaged 7.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in six December games. If he can keep up that kind of production and cut down on the turnovers, he could take over point guard responsibilities if a change is needed. 

Lester Quinones 

The sophomore guard, who plays bigger than his 6-5, 205-pound frame, might be the most complete player on the team. A perimeter scoring threat, Quinones is also a lockdown defender and is always active on the boards. He has also displayed a penchant for performing under pressure. Late in a win over UConn last season, Quinones hit a clutch 3-pointer to help seal the deal. Also, in the Tigers' big win over Houston, he was 8-of-8 from the free throw line, including 4-of-4 in the final five minutes . 

DeAndre Williams

The 6-9 forward has not been given the green light to play. But if the NCAA grants Evansville transfer's waiver request, he instantly elevates the Tigers and immediately goes into the running for the team's X-factor. Williams, who is a competent 3-point shooter, is an energetic, physical presence in the mid-range and inside game. He scored 15.8 points a game last season and averaged 6.9 rebounds. 

Lance Thomas

After sitting out the 2018-19 season due to transfer rules, the former Louisville forward did a little bit of everything for Memphis. Despite slumping early, Thomas rallied to shoot 39.1% from deep over his final 12 games (11 starts) and averaged 7.3 points and 3.2 rebounds. Active on defense, he blocked 1.5 shots a game down the stretch. Thomas affords the Tigers increased flexibility at a variety of positions. 

Ahmad Rand

A junior college transfer, the 6-8 Rand is a defensive specialist. Whatever offense he provides will be icing on the cake for the bouncy and active player, who led all junior college players in blocks per game each of the past two seasons. 

Malcolm Dandridge

At 6-9, 232, Dandridge was pressed into action more often than perhaps he was prepared to be. Coming off a significant knee injury that ended his high school career, the Memphis native was never quite 100 percent during his freshman campaign. Still, he contributed 3.4 points and 3.0 rebounds a game while also coming away with 17 blocks and 19 steals in 24 games (four starts). Dandridge must show he's fully recovered from his injury and ready to give the Tigers consistent minutes. 

Conor Glennon

A 5-10 walk-on guard, Glennon's path to playing time will likely be a tough one. Given the depth of the backcourt, the Chicago native will almost certainly redshirt. 

Moussa Cisse

Memphis needed to add an impact player at center after losing Precious Achiuwa to the NBA. They found one in the 6-10 former Lausanne star. Cisse gives the Tigers an imposing lane-clogge, who has the potential to be the AAC's best rim-protector and rebounder. A young freshman, Cisse will need time to adapt to the college game. The preseason favorite for AAC Rookie of the Year, Cisse isn't the scoring threat Precious Achiuwa was. But he might be a more proficient shot-blocker, which is all the Tigers need him to be. 

Reach sports writer Jason Munz at jason.munz@shujwhcb.com or on Twitter @munzly.