Precious Achiuwa to Memphis as Penny Hardaway now has the nation's No. 1 recruiting class | Zagsblog
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Monday / September 23.
  • Precious Achiuwa to Memphis as Penny Hardaway now has the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    Precious Achiuwa committed to Memphis on Friday as Penny Hardaway now has the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation.

    “I would like to take my talents to the University of Memphis,” the 6-foot-9 Achiuwa said in a video put out by ESPN.

    “I’ve decided to attend the University of Memphis because I trust coach Penny, coach Mike [Miller], coach Sam [Mitchell] and it feels like home, and I believe they could help prepare me for the next level.”

    The 6-foot-9 McDonald’s All-American forward from Montverde (FL) Academy chose Memphis over Kansas. Georgia and North Carolina had also been in the mix.

    Memphis now has the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation, per 247sports. Their 2019 class includes players ranked No. 1 (James Wiseman), 17 (Achiuwa), DJ Jeffries (25), Boogie Ellis (38) and 81 (Lester Quinones) by ESPN.com. Memphis also added Arkansas-Little Rock transfer Rayjon Tucker.

    Wiseman is the projected No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, while Achiuwa is at No. 9, meaning Memphis now has two Top-10 projected picks next year.

    “He has an NBA body and athleticism,” legendary Montverde (FL) Academy coach Kevin Boyle, who has coached six top-3 NBA Draft pick, said of Achiuwa. “He can get out in transition and attack the rim. He can guard multiple positions. He has the potential to be a very good NBA player. And he’s a great student.”

    Hardaway said last month he wanted to finish out his class strong, and he’s certainly done that.

    “We really want to finish this class off with our last four scholarships being studs, and hopefully we can do that,” Hardaway told me for Forbes SportsMoney before adding Tucker, Quinones, Ellis and Achiuwa. “And then the expectations go way high because you give yourself an opportunity to be mentioned in the breath of one of the teams that’s up and coming and in the right direction.”

    Hardaway knows expectations will be sky-high for this team in 2019-20 to make the NCAA Tournament and make a deep run, but he’s excited for the challenge.

    “I think that we want the pressure,” Hardaway said. “Being in the position that all of us, me, Mike [Miller] and Sam [Mitchell], we had pressure to get to where we got to, to get to the league. So the pressure of having really good players and then putting that on us, and say, hey, you need to get here, we understand what that means, and we want that. That means that you have a great team and you have the opportunity to win a national championship when they start putting that type of pressure on you.”

    After North Carolina and Kansas initially had momentum with Achiuwa, Hardaway and staff came strong in recent months. Achiuwa took an official there in late April .

    “I like the way they play,” Achiuwa said. “I like the coaching staff a lot. They play a fast ball. They have the coaching staff that have been where a lot of us area trying to get to, so obviously they have an idea. They have the feel of what it’s like to be at the next level. They’re gonna translate that to us and teach us what the next level is about.”

    Wiseman, the newly-minted Gatorade and Wooten National Player of the Year, had been actively recruiting Achiuwa, as had Quinones.

    Asked he might fit alongside the 7-foot-1 Wiseman he said: “I feel like I can play alongside anybody because of the way my game is set up. Because of the type of player I am, I can play multiple positions. It doesn’t matter who I play with, I can conform to playing with any type of player.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.