University of Memphis Athletics – Former Memphis Tigers great Penny Hardaway named men’s basketball coach

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Anfernee `Penny’ Hardaway, a two-time All-American and a four-time NBA All-Star during his playing days, is returning to his alma mater.


Hardaway, 46, was named University of Memphis men’s basketball coach Tuesday in a press conference at the Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center on the Park Avenue Campus. Hardaway becomes the school’s 19th coach and the third former Tiger player in the modern era (since WWII) to lead the program, following Wayne Yates (1974-79) and Larry Finch (1986-97).


Hardaway, who played for Finch, begins his first job as a college head coach after a successful run at East High School. East High won state titles in 2016, 2017 and 2018.  With Hardaway serving as head coach, the Mustangs defeated Whitehaven High last weekend in Murfreesboro, Tenn., for the Class AAA championship.


Hardaway will assume the reins of a program that went 40-26 in two seasons under Tubby Smith.  Memphis finished 21-13 this season, falling in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference Championship to top seed Cincinnati.


In the Tigers’ rich basketball history, there are few players as well known or decorated as Hardaway. A former prep standout at Treadwell High, he averaged 36.6 points and 10.1 rebounds as a senior in 1990 and was named Parade Magazine National High School Player of the Year.


He signed with the Tigers following an intense recruiting battle and became the most electrifying player in the program’s history.  His No. 25 jersey is one of nine jerseys the school has retired.


Hardaway remains the only Memphis player to have two career triple-doubles and his 1,319 points (in only two seasons) rank 17th on the school’s career scoring list. The 729 points he scored during the 1992-93 season are the most by a junior in Tigers history.


In his two seasons, Hardaway led the team to a 43-23 record – including eight wins over nationally ranked schools — and directed the Tigers to two NCAA Tournament appearances, including an Elite Eight trip in 1992.


A two-time All-American and two-time Great Midwest Conference Player of the Year, Hardaway averaged 22.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.4 steals in 1992-93.  After his junior year, Hardaway declared for the NBA Draft and began a 14-year pro career with the Orlando Magic (1993-99), the Phoenix Suns (1999-2004), the New York Knicks (2004-06) and the Miami Heat (2007).


The No. 3 pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, Hardaway quickly rose to stardom with the Magic. He averaged 16.6 points, 6.6 assists and 5.4 rebounds in his first season and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team.


The following two seasons with the Magic brought more success. During the 1994-95 season, he averaged 20.9 points and 7.2 assists, started the NBA All-Star Game and was named to the All-NBA First Team, while leading Orlando to the NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets. Hardaway averaged 25.5 points and eight assists in the series.

During the 1995-96 season, Hardaway averaged a career-best 21.7 points per game and 7.1 assists. He again was named All-NBA First Team and finished third in the league’s MVP voting.  After the season, he played on the U.S. Olympic basketball team that won a gold medal in Atlanta, Ga.


Hardaway started in the NBA All-Star Game the following two seasons. During the 1997 NBA playoffs, he had the distinction of becoming the first player to score 40 or more points in back-to-back games against a Pat Riley-coached team when he had 42 and 41 in consecutive outings against the Miami Heat.


Hardaway joined the Phoenix Suns to start the 1999-2000 season and averaged 16.9 points in 60 games and 20.3 points in nine playoff games.  After playing a full season for the Suns in 2001-02, he battled knee injuries throughout the remainder of his career, which included stops with the Knicks and the Heat.


Known for his support of the University through the years, Hardaway donated $1 million in 2008 for the school’s sports Hall of Fame building, which bears his name.  Hardaway returned to school and graduated in May 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in professional studies.



Born: July 18, 1971
Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.
High school: Treadwell
College: University of Memphis

Coaching Highlights

  • Helped East High School to state titles in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Served as head coach for East High’s 2018 Class AAA state title team.

NBA Highlights

  • 1996 Olympian (Gold medal)
  • 1995 NBA Finalist (with Orlando)
  • Four-time NBA All-Star (1995-98)
  • Two-time All-NBA First Team (1995, 1996)
  • NBA All-Rookie Team (1994)
  • 14-year NBA career (4 teams: Orlando, Phoenix, New York, Miami)
  • More than 10,000 points; 3,000 rebounds; 3,500 assists
  • No. 3 overall pick in 1993 NBA Draft (at the time, highest-drafted Tiger)
  • Inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame in 2017

College Highlights

  • Played two seasons at then-Memphis State (1991-92, 1992-93)
  • No. 25 jersey retired Jan. 23, 1994
  • Two-time All-American
  • Two-time Great Midwest Conference MVP
  • Two-time All-Great Midwest Conference First Team
  • Two-time Great Midwest Conference All-Tournament Team
  • 1992 NCAA Tournament All-Midwest Regional Team
  • Two-time NCAA Tournament participant (1992 Elite Eight, 1993 first round)
  • No. 17 scorer on Tigers’ career list (1,319 points)
  • 17 career double-doubles
  • Only player in program history with two triple-doubles

High School Highlights

  • Played his prep career at Treadwell High School in Memphis
  • Parade Magazine High School National Player of the Year
  • Scored more than 3,000 points in his high school career