It has been 18 seasons since the Memphis Tigers put an all-Memphis squad on the floor to start a regular-season game. This was the norm under former coaches Larry Finch and Dana Kirk and the programs were pretty successful.
Josh Pastner has the option to start junior guard Joe Jackson, junior guard Chris Crawford, sophomore forward Adonis Thomas, senior forward Ferrakohn Hall, and junior forward Tarik Black.
The players listed are not just five average players. These were five national prospects that happened to be from Memphis, TN.
Sporting News college basketball writer Mike DeCourcy said this about the starting probability.
“But if someone came up with a stat that said no top 25 team on Day 1 has ever started five guys from the same city — if somebody said that was true — it wouldn’t surprise me. I’m sure there have been lots of teams that were OK, average or bad that did that. But to start out the season ranked No. 16 (by USA Today) and open with all five guys from (Memphis) would be pretty remarkable.”
During John Calipari’s tenure as the Tigers coach, his teams largely featured out-of-town talent. Pastner has found a niche in recruiting top talent locally and nationally, which is evident in his 2013 recruiting class. It features three highly ranked Memphis-area products (Austin Nichols, Nick King and Markel Crawford) and two more from Connecticut (Kuran Iverson) and Florida (Pookie Powell).
“This is a national program. Of course we want to recruit locally because there’s great players in this city and the Mid-South. But we’re going to recruit nationally. Bottom line,” Pastner said to the Commercial Appeal. “We’re an elite program, so we’re going to recruit the very best.
Patosha Jeffery is the Memphis Tigers Featured Columnist at Rant Sports. Be sure to follow her on Twitter: @patoshajeffery