Jalen Duren, nation's No. 1 basketball recruit, commits to Penny Hardaway and Memphis

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  • Penny Hardaway
    Penny Hardaway
    American basketball player
  • Jalen Duren
    American basketball player
  • Emoni Bates
    American basketball player

Memphis basketball has won the Jalen Duren sweepstakes.

The 6-foot-10, 230-pound center announced his verbal commitment to the Tigers on Friday, drastically altering the team's outlook for the 2021-22 season. Duren, who also made his reclassification plans official, has chosen to play for Penny Hardaway at Memphis over reportedly lucrative offers from the G League and Australian NBL, as well as offers from Kentucky and Miami.

By securing a pledge from Duren, the Tigers' 2021 recruiting class elevates from 15th in the country to No. 5. It could rise further still if Emoni Bates, who has Memphis included on his list of four finalists, chooses to join Duren.

JALEN DUREN: What Jalen Duren's commitment means for Penny Hardaway and Memphis basketball

GIANNOTTO: Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates are a reminder of the grip Penny Hardaway has on Memphis | Giannotto

Duren, whose high school career began at Roman Catholic in Philadelphia, spent last season at Montverde (Florida) where he ascended to become the top-ranked recruit in the country, recently leapfrogging Emoni Bates, who is also considering playing for Memphis (along with Oregon, Michigan State and the G League).

A true post player who has already drawn comparisons to the Heat's Bam Adebayo and the Kings' Marvin Bagley III, Duren helped lead Montverde to the title at GEICO Nationals in April. He scored nine points and grabbed nine rebounds in the championship game against Memphis native and Tennessee signee Kennedy Chandler's Sunrise Christian squad.

Duren also recently played a pivotal role in leading Team Final to the Peach Jam title in July. During the truncated Nike EYBL session (15 games), he averaged 13.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.9 assists per game, while shooting 54.1% from the field, while sharing the load with Duke commit Dariq Whitehead. In the championship game at Peach Jam, Duren put up 17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

Duren joins a 2021 signing class that includes wings Josh Minott and John Camden, guard Jonathan Lawson and center Sam Onu. That class was ranked 15th in the nation, according to 247 Sports, prior to Duren's commitment.

Memphis returns a strong core – guards Landers Nolley II (last season's leading scorer), Lester Quinones, Alex Lomax and forward DeAndre Williams – that helped the team win the National Invitation Tournament.

Reach sports writer Jason Munz at jason.munz@commercialappeal.com or on Twitter @munzly.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Jalen Duren, No. 1 basketball recruit, commits to Memphis, Hardaway