Penny Hardaway is now head coach of the Memphis Tigers.
Hardaway finally landed the job last week after months of speculation that he was getting it, but there were other schools interested in him. Ole Miss was also looking at Hardaway as a head coach, and many other programs were eyeing him as an assistant coach.
Were the Kentucky Wildcats among them?
According to Mark Giannotto of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, there were rumors that UK did want Hardaway as an assistant to help land star recruit James Wiseman.
School officials and prominent boosters were also wary of rumors that Kentucky coach John Calipari could be interested in hiring Hardaway as an assistant coach to aid its pursuit of top 2019 prospect James Wiseman, the best player on Hardaway’s East High School team.
It’s an interesting theory, but at that point, Hardaway wasn’t going to take an assistant coaching job anywhere. He was set on becoming a head coach, ideally at his alma mater, so UK’s interest, if real, would have likely led to nothing anyhow.
But this is still interesting for UK, as it indicates they could be eyeing a new assistant coach to replace someone currently on staff. Tony Barbee has caught a lot of flack over the years for appearing to give UK very little on the recruiting trail.
Still, it’s hard to see John Calipari parting ways with one of his assistants, so maybe this was a backup plan in case Kenny Payne got a head-coaching job somewhere.