By now, most Memphis Tigers fans have heard the news. After a long and much anticipated wait, head coach Josh Pastner announced Tuesday afternoon that incoming freshman RaShawn “Pookie” Powell will redshirt for the 2013-14 season.
There was no mob, torches or pitchforks. The news is what everyone expected, and maybe even better than expected for those who thought he would not be able to even go to Memphis for school this year.
So, fans can go ahead and exhale a deep sigh of relief because Powell will be a Tiger. The freshman began classes today, and though he won’t be on the court for another year, Pookie is here to stay.
What does this mean for the program? Well, for starters, it allows Powell to work on his academics, which should be his main focus at this point. His academics while at Dr. Phillip’s High School in Orlando were the the reason his eligibility had been in question for much of the past few months. That’s all behind him and now, Powell can work on making sure his grades are up to par with NCAA standards.
It also benefits both the team and Powell in the long run. Whether or not he will be able to practice with the team has yet to be determined, but it gives him a year to work on his game and learn under seniors Chris Crawford, Joe Jackson and Geron Johnson.
It also adds relief in the backcourt, which has a logjam of talent. Powell would have been fighting for minutes behind the three seniors (possibly a fourth if Michael Dixon is granted eligibility), sophomore Damien Wilson and the other guards in the 2013 recruiting class.
A lot of experience will be gone after the season, which should allow Powell to make a serious push for playing time and possibly a starting spot in 2014-15. Rarely does a player stick with the team he committed to out of high school if he goes the JUCO route, which is what Powell could have done for a year before opening his recruitment back up. The scenario was not ideal, but chalk it up as a big win for the Memphis program.