MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Back in June, Penny Hardaway told us he still needed to add a few more shooters and few more coaches to his program.
It’s safe to say the coaching staff and roster are near complete after the U of M finalized the additions of Frank Haith and Keonte Kennedy this week.
“It’s obviously a national championship — we think it’s a national championship team.”
That’s how high the ceiling is for the Tigers this season, according to new guard Keonte Kennedy.
Ironically, the U of M was Kennedy’s first official visit out of high school back during the last season of Tubby Smith’s tenure, but he decided to play for Xavier.
Now, he’s back in Memphis and this time it just feels right.
“This is the biggest platform there is when it comes to basketball. It’s one of the biggest platforms. It’s a true blessing.”
The 6-5 guard from UTEP wraps up five portal picks up for Hardaway this offseason, joining fellow college basketball veterans F Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu, G Emmanuel Akot, G Kendric Davis, and G Elijah McCadden.
And this group is already gelling.
“It’s not just on the court, but off the court as well. Meeting everybody, it’s really a family and like a real culture we’ve built. And that’s what carries on and makes the best on the court, how we are off the court.”
Kennedy averaged 14.1 points and 6.1 rebounds a game last season for the Minors. He’s an older guard that can bring more leadership to the team.
According to Hardaway, Kennedy is a perfect complement to the pieces they have and will play a big role this season on both sides of the ball.
“Someone of that caliber really thinks that high of me and just all the information that he can give me because I’m getting in extra workouts with him every day as much as I can just get that knowledge,” Kennedy said of his relationship with Hardaway. “And his knowledge is just top notch. We’re talking like Michael Jordan type knowledge and level. So that’s what all the coaches honestly including like Larry Brown. He’s done that at the college and at the NBA level. So he knows what it takes. Even though he may be old-school, he knows what it takes. He has seen it — been there and done that. So, just the knowledge of the game from all these coaches this it’s amazing. Coach Haith as well being a head coach for 20 plus years.”
Prior to joining UTEP, Kennedy appeared in 22 games for Xavier in 2018-19. He redshirted the 2019-20 season due to NCAA transfer rules.