Memphis Madness To Be Huge For Memphis Tigers This Year

By Bryan Heater
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to believe that we are just over a month away from the tip off of the 2013-14 NCAA basketball season, but it’s a reality. With the season closing in, programs are preparing for the beginning of Fall practices in October.

Down south in the Bluff City, the Memphis Tigers start their practices on Oct. 3. Every year before the season, the team holds Memphis Madness at the FedExForum, where fans come to see the team in action against each other for the first time.

The event is always big for the program and its fans, but this year, the magnitude for it is huge.

Why is that? It’s really quite simple. Aside from all the fun head coach Josh Pastner and his team will have, there will be elite recruits in attendance on their official visits, most notably Cliff Alexander and JaQuan Lyle.

A 6-foot-8, 240 pound power forward from Curie High School in Chicago, Alexander is rated as a five-star recruit and the No. 4 overall prospect in the class of 2014 by The Tigers are competing against teams such as the Arizona Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks and Louisville Cardinals for his services.

Lyle, a 6-foot-2, 215 pound guard, is also rated as a five-star recruit by Rivals, and the No. 22 overall prospect in the ’14 class. Tuesday, he announced he would take his official visits to the Connecticut Huskies, Arizona, Kansas and the Tigers on Oct. 18 for Memphis Madness. His list is very similar to Alexander’s, and that’s because Lyle and Alexander plan to attend the same college together, making their visit to Memphis even more significant.

Lyle committed to Louisville initially, but after questioning his role for the Cardinals as a freshman, he reopened his recruitment. Lyle would fit the mold for guards in Pastner’s up-and-down style. He plays at a frantic pace and is a great slasher, regularly making his way into the lane and finishing among the trees. He is also very good at finding open teammates. In other words, Lyle is exactly what you expect to see when watching a Memphis guard.

Alexander also fits the Tigers’ style of play. In Pastner’s style, the big men can run the floor and are athletic, which epitomizes Alexander. He isn’t huge, but coaches love his physicality and high motor. He has great strength and toughness, and is a relentless rebounder. He routinely puts himself in position to grab boards and is a good defender. His offensive game needs some work, but there is no denying his talent.

Both guys would be instant impact players for the Tigers and make them a favorite to take the AAC title in 2014-15. Oct. 18 was already a date circled for the program, but with Alexander and Lyle going to be in attendance, you can add some underlines with that circle.

Pastner is an elite recruiter and has brought in some great classes thus far, but landing a package deal like Alexander and Lyle would be his biggest get of his career. Get your popcorn ready, Tiger fans, because the spotlight on Memphis Madness just got much brighter.

Bryan Heater is an AAC basketball and football columnist for Follow him on Twitter, Friend him on Facebook or add him to your Google network.

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