At least as far as recruiting prowess is concerned, new Memphis coach Josh Pastner is following in the footsteps of his predecessor.
A program that may have been temporarily crippled by John Calipari’s departure, Latavious Williams bolting for Europe, the Derrick Rose/ACT scandal and the loss of prized recruit Xavier Henry is quickly turning around. Jeff Goodman first reported today that Joe Jackson, the fourth ranked point guard in the nation according to Scout.com, will commit to his hometown Tigers in a press conference later tonight. Tennessee and Kansas were also involved, but most inside recruiting circles felt Jackson vowing to stay home was inevitable.
Pastner has been able to quickly rejuvinate a Memphis program suffering from major personnel losses- namely Tyreke Evans, Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggart- by having Duke point guard Elliot Williams fall into his lap this summer and also securing the commitment of Will Barton, a 6’6 shooting guard ranked by Scout.com as the #1 overall player at his position. Williams, Barton and Jackson in the fray means three McDonalds All-American guards in the backcourt for Pastner in 2010-11.
As a college basketball fan, color me pleased that Memphis seems to be on the upswing yet again. Rather than be left in the dust by Calipari, a young, vibrant coach like Pastner should be able to re-invent the image of a scarred program. While his coaching skills have yet to be evaluated, Pastner appears to be heading on the right track towards another dominant decade-long run in Conference USA by landing such elite recruits against more established coaching mainstays. Their loyal and passionate fan base deserves it.