Tubby Smith is taking a few steps down with his new job, but he’s landing in a familiar place.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, Smith is on the verge of being hired as basketball coach by his alma mater, High Point.
The one-time national champion was last seen at Memphis, where he was abruptly fired after two seasons without an NCAA Tournament bid. Last season’s High Point team went 14-16, and the school has never made the NCAA Tournament — an accomplishment Smith will likely set his eyes to.
South Carolina head coach Frank Martin expressed his support for Tubby Smith after Smith was fired by Memphis on Wednesday.
Martin called it a “sad day” in the business with Smith being fired after just two years on the job.
Smith went 40-26 over two seasons, though there was nothing special about his tenure. And that’s the problem.
Memphis thinks that by hiring Penny Hardaway — which many believe will happen — they can bring a spark to the program. If Hardaway is able to add many of his AAU and high school players as recruits, the Tigers will be in a much better position to win than they were under Smith.
Tubby Smith has lived to see at least another day.
Smith was set to meet with Memphis administrators on Tuesday but the meeting was pushed back a day, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Mark Giannotto reported Monday that Smith was not told what the meeting was about, though he was expected to receive clarity about his job status. Smith’s future as Memphis’ head basketball coach is in question.
Memphis went 21-13 in its second season under Smith, but fan interest in the program has been waning. There has been speculation that the school has interest in replacing Smith with Penny Hardaway as head coach. Hardaway, a successful high school and youth coach in the area, has ties to many top local recruits.
The attorney for Tubby Smith is accusing Penny Hardaway of undermining his client, potentially so the former NBA coach could overtake Smith as Memphis’ new basketball coach.
Smith is 20-12 in his second season as the head coach of the Tigers, but attendance, donations and fan interest seem to be dwindling. Meanwhile, Penny, who is one of the program’s most famous alumni, has become a highly successful high school and youth coach in Memphis. There was a report during the week saying that Memphis is considering replacing Smith with Hardaway.
Smith’s attorney Ricky Lefft spoke on Friday and accused Hardaway of undermining his client, via the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
“If you’ve got somebody that wants the job and they’re controlling most of the talent in the city, I’m not casting aspersions. I’ll let you draw conclusions,” Lefft said, via the Commercial Appeal’s Mark Giannotto.
“But (Smith) gets hit with by the local media that he’s not getting the Memphis kids. They’re recruiting the Memphis kids. They’re bringing them on official visits. They’re making the phone calls. They’re going to the games. They’re talking to the parents … It would only be speculation on my part on what’s going on there, but it’s the worst kept secret in America that (Hardaway) wanted the job and there may come a time when coach has exited that he’ll get the job.”
Hardaway has led Memphis East High School to consecutive state titles and has ties to many top 2019 recruits. It would make sense for the program to make a switch and put Hardaway in charge, both so they can get a talented, famous coach who would energize fans, and the players who come with him. They might have to pay Smith’s buyout to do it, but that could turn out to be worthwhile.
Memphis is considering firing Tubby Smith and replacing him with Penny Hardaway, according to a report.
CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish published a report on Tuesday in which he said Memphis was evaluating its head coaching situation and weighing hiring Hardaway.
Hardaway was an iconic NBA player during the mid-90s when he teamed with Shaq on the Orlando Magic. Hardaway was the No. 3 overall pick in the ’93 draft out of Memphis, where he had starred.
Since ending his playing career in 2008, Penny has gotten into coaching. He has led East High in Memphis to consecutive state titles and is going for a third. Penny also runs a successful youth program.
Memphis’ school president told the Commercial Appeal that the program will be evaluated at the end of the season. Tubby Smith is in his second season as the Tigers’ head coach. They went 19-13 last season and are 19-12 this season.
Beyond his prominence as an alumni who could energize the program and fan base, one other aspect of Hardaway that is attractive is his ties to current top recruits in the 2019 class. Memphis has to be thinking that if they were to give him the job, Penny could use his connections to perhaps get some of his players to join him in college.
After leading his school to a win on Monday night, Hardaway brushed aside coaching rumors.
Tubby Smith is the leading candidate for the vacant Memphis basketball job, according to a report.
The current Texas Tech coach has had “significant contact” with the school, according to Dan Wolken of USA Today, and it is believed that he would take the position if it is offered to him.
A deal is apparently very close as of Wednesday afternoon.
Memphis is reportedly targeting an experienced, proven winner and Smith would certainly fit that bill. He won a national title at Kentucky and has taken all five of the schools he’s coached at to the NCAA Tournament at least once, and he’s entered bad situations at Minnesota and Texas Tech and brought them periods of success. That record of success is a far cry from that of former coach Josh Pastner, who took over after the wildly successful John Calipari era and has missed the NCAA Tournament each of the previous two seasons before his recent departure for greener pastures.