(Photo: Michael Gardner , 247Sports)
On November 20, 2018, #1 ranked prospect in the 2019 recruiting class James Wiseman committed to the University of Memphis. This was the first domino to fall in place. After that, the other pieces of the puzzle began to come together with commitments from some of the highest-ranked prospects in the states. Coach Hardaway finalized his masterpiece on May 17, 2019, with the commitment of 5 star Precious Achiuwa, thus completing the near-perfect #1 recruiting class in the nation for 2019.
Since then, the date has been set for the 2019 Memphis Madness. The rumors have already begun to fly around on who the musical acts will be or who will be in attendance. But what does “Memphis Madness” have to do with how the Tigers will do in their season? Or college basketball in general? After all, following last year’s Memphis Madness and Penny Hardaway’s first season as head coach, the Tigers went on to win a whopping 22 games, finishing 5th in the AAC. Although the Tigers reached the postseason for the first time since 2014, a 22 win program isn’t exactly something to jump for joy for.
Another example of this is last season, at Late Night in the Phog, Rick Ross played a short set for the Jayhawks. Did Kansas bring home a National Championship after that? A solid Elite 8 run, sure. But no championship ring.
And the year before that, Drake played his set at Big Blue Madness. The Wildcats also made an impressive elite 8 run but still, no ring.
So how is it possible for open practice featuring a small set by a big name artist to become a game-changer for a college basketball program?
Like every other D1 college basketball program, Memphis Madness is basically a glorified basketball practice with maybe musical acts, or maybe special guests. Sure, there are a lot of aspects that are not necessary. After all, it is meant for fans and they do expect to be entertained. However, not only is Memphis madness entertaining, but it is important on the recruiting trail and college basketball culture.
At last year's Memphis Madness, Tiger fans sold out the FedEx Forum in excitement for a new era in Tiger Basketball. Yet, that is not was the most impressive part. Not only were musical acts such as home town favorites like Yo Gotti and Blockboy JB there, but some of the top prospects for the upcoming class were also in attendance. This included James Wiseman, Trendon Watford, Dj Jeffries, Boogie Ellis, among others. Now although it may be coincidental that three of these four 5 and 4-star prospects signed with the University of Memphis, or maybe it’s not. However, it is naive to think that Memphis Madness was not even a factor in their decision.
So who will be there this year?
The University has been tight-lipped about the musical guests, but it's safe to say they have some big shoes to fill. As far as 2020 prospects in attendance, 5-star guard Jalen Green will be taking his official listing from October 2-5, so naturally, he will be in attendance in this year’s event. It is too early to say if Green will be a Tiger in the 2020 season, but Tiger fans like their odds.
Memphis Madness will be held at the FedEx Forum on October 3, 2019.