Earl Timberlake Commits to Penny Hardaway, Memphis After Transfer from Miami

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 8, 2021

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Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers landed a significant addition from the transfer portal.

Guard Earl Timberlake told Jonathan Givony of ESPN that he is transferring from Miami to Memphis to play for the Tigers during the 2021-22 season.

"I felt like I can learn a lot from [coach] Penny Hardaway—all he's done in his career," Timberlake said. "I like the way they defend, they have the No. 1-ranked defense in the country. I can add to that. I like how they see my game. They know I can pass and they'll help me get back to defending the way I know I can defend and try to win a national championship. I appreciate everyone for recruiting me and I'm going to do my best at Memphis."

That the defense stood out for Timberlake is notable because the Tigers finished last season No. 1 in the country on that side of the floor in KenPom.com's rankings. They used that defense to go 9-2 in their final 11 regular-season games and eventually win the NIT championship over Mississippi State.

Maintaining that defensive presence figures to be key for the 2021-22 campaign, especially given the overall roster changes.

Givony noted Boogie Ellis, Damion Baugh, Jordan Nesbitt and D.J. Jeffries all entered the transfer portal, while Moussa Cisse declared for the NBA draft but is yet to hire an agent. An impressive recruiting class that is No. 8 on the 247Sports' composite rankings is coming in, and Davion Warren transferred to the Tigers from Hampton.

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Timberlake arrives as another key addition and someone who could play his way up NBA draft boards with a successful season.

He dealt with ankle and shoulder injuries in his freshman season with the Hurricanes and appeared in just seven games while averaging 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals a night.

At his best, he is someone who can impact the game in a number of ways, including on the defensive end.

That should fit in well with Hardaway's squad.