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Memphis Tigers may replace Tubby Smith with Penny Hardaway: How it impacts UK Basketball

This could be a game-changer for UK recruiting.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It sounds like the Memphis Tigers will be in the market for a new coach soon, and it may have a serious impact on the Kentucky Wildcats.

By now, you probably know all about Penny Hardaway, who’s very likely to join the college ranks very soon. As it turns out, Memphis could be where he ends up as a replacement for former UK head coach Tubby Smith, according to CBS Sports.

That’s also big for UK’s future recruiting, as Hardaway already coaches a pair of UK targets in James Wiseman and D.J. Jeffries on the AAU circuit. Hardway is also the head coach of Memphis East where he’s coaching Wiseman, the prize of the 2019 class as the top-ranked player. UK is the heavy favorite in his recruitment.

But Memphis having Hardaway as their head coach could be a game-changer in this recruitment. If nothing else, it may help sway Wiseman to remain a 2019 recruit to give him time to see how Hardaway does at Memphis before deciding. Wiseman has considered a move to the 2018 class, but that’s continuing to look more unlikely.

Then there’s Jeffries, who is ranked 17th overall in 2019 by ESPN. UK appears to be at or near the top for him right now, but again, Hardaway to Memphis would likely change his recruitment.

In the end, UK fans should probably root for Tubby and his Tigers to make a run in the AAC Tournament, making it harder for Memphis to part ways with him. They’d already be on the hook for a $9.75 million buyout, so it’s probably going to be a close call whether they keep Tubby or not as it stands.

Then again, Hardaway could easily end up at another program make said school a viable destination for Wiseman, Jeffries and other potential UK targets. Ole Miss has been mentioned as another potential suitor for Hardaway, and you can bet plenty of other programs will come calling.