New Memphis Coach, Josh Pastner, has started his coaching career off with a bang. After seeing what many called “the best recruiting class since Michigan’s Fab Five” leave Memphis to follow Calipari in Lexington or attend another school, Pastner had to land some players quickly.
Pastner has had minimal time to even get enough players to play next season, but he landed his first ever recruit as a head coach Tuesday afternoon.
Latavious Williams, the No. 17 overall high school player and No. 6 power forward according to Rivals.com, made his commitment to play at the University of Memphis after weeks of speculation that he would go elsewhere.
Williams was expected to announce his decision to go to Memphis a few weeks ago, but instead he expanded his time to make a decision so he could visit Florida International, Georgetown, and Oklahoma.
Williams had told Zagsblog writer, Adam Zagoria, that Memphis was his top school a few weeks ago. Williams said his decision came down to location and he really wanted to have his family come to games. Williams is a Starksvile, MS native, which is only about two hours away from Memphis.
Williams is a 6'7" forward who can play both the three position and the four. He plays with a high motor and has shown the ability to knock down a 10 to 15-foot shot. Williams has also shown great athletic ability throwing down some spectacular dunks in his high school years.
Williams’s high school coach, Carlos Wilson, had some high praise for Williams.
“I see Latavious right now as the Shawn Marion type of guy, the Stacey Augmon type,” Wilson said. “He can put up big man’s rebounding numbers but he’s an ultra-athletic slasher from the wing spots. And he can also shoot it. He’s a very versatile basketball player. The thing that makes him special in my eyes is that it doesn’t matter to him.
There are still some questions of whether of not Williams will be able to play next season. His grades still need some work in order to qualify for NCAA Basketball. According to on-line sources, it seems like his standardized testing is fine, he just needs to work on his GPA.
He will be attending summer school to try to fix his grades. Right now, he says he is 75 percent sure he will qualify.
The Tigers currently have eight scholarship players, not counting Shawn Taggart, who is still in the draft as of now. Memphis is still in the running for a number of highly touted high-school players who are still unsigned.
The Tigers are not out of the Lance Stephenson race. Latavious Williams even said he would try to convince Lance to join him in Conference USA. Stephenson is said to bring a lot of “baggage” but there is no doubt that Stephenson is one of the best players in the country.
Noel Johnson, who recently got out of his Letter of Intent to play for USC after the OJ Mayo and Reggie Bush allegations have aroused, is said to have Memphis as a candidate along with Georgia Tech and LSU.
Johnson is a top-60 player and the No. 11 small forward. The Tigers still need a lot of help on the wings. Landing Johnson would help the Tigers depth enormously.
Josh Pastner still has a long way to go before Memphis is a Final Four team again, but no one can deny that he is not on a good start. Getting five-star, highly touted recruits is nothing easy for a first ever head coach.
I have said this before and I will say this again, Josh Pastner was a home run hire and he is showing it within the first few months of taking the job. The Memphis faithful should not expect a 30-win season in his first year, but I would not be surprised to see a few in the years to come.