Memphis basketball mailbag: Are Tigers pursuing 'quality bigs' and will David Jones return?

Penny Hardaway added one of the best 3-point shooters in the country and Memphis basketball added non-conference games with Mississippi State, Ole Miss and UNLV to the 2024-25 schedule.

And that's just in the past five days.

Like any other Tigers offseason, there has been no shortage of activity and intrigue. Priority No. 1, however, for the Memphis coach remains taking steps toward filling out a roster very short on returning players. Memphis is making progress in that regard, having already added guards PJ Haggerty and Colby Rogers, as well as big man Dain Dainja from the transfer portal.

With that in mind, let's dig into this week's mailbag:

What is the status as far as adding quality bigs? Also, is (Nicholas) Jourdain coming back for sure? − Meetesh Patel, via Tiger Basketball Insider text group

This question (or, some variation of it) was far and away the most popular when the call for them was sent out to the Tiger Basketball Insider text group.

For good reason. Memphis has been very active lately in the transfer portal, bringing three players in for official visits last weekend and either hosting or working to set up visits with several more in the coming days. But, with the exception of small forward Aaron Scott (North Texas) − who visited the Tigers on April 12-13 − every other visitor or imminent visitor is a guard. That includes Sam Houston State transfer Davon Barnes (who visited last week but committed to Ole Miss Thursday), Wichita State transfer Colby Rogers (who visited and committed to Memphis last week) and FIU point guard Arturo Dean (whose visit this week has been postponed). It also includes Morehead State transfer Mark Freeman and North Texas transfer John Buggs III (whose visit this week has also been pushed back).

On the surface, it appears the Tigers are concentrating on addressing the backcourt right now. But the staff is not ignoring the front court. Memphis was working to make inroads with 6-11 Washington State center Rueben Chinyelu, but he announced his transfer to Florida.

The fact is, there is still more than a month between now and the time players will report. There is also the possibility (OK, more like, probability) Hardaway has his eyes on a player who has declared for the NBA Draft. The deadline to withdraw from draft consideration and still maintain collegiate eligibility is May 29.

As far as Jourdain goes, it's important to remember, the transfer portal era has made everything about the offseason even more fluid. The 6-9 forward, who was a key piece of the Tigers' roster in 2023-24, said multiple times publicly that he plans to be back for the 2024-25 season. My understanding is that is still the case − although, it's never done until it's done.

What are the chances David Jones will be back? − William Greenwell, via Tiger Basketball Insider text group

The last time Jones spoke publicly about his future was more than two weeks ago on a sports talk show ("Marega Deportes") in the Dominican Republic.

“I don’t know yet,” said Jones, who led the Tigers in scoring and rebounding in 2023-24. “I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself with that decision. Because, if I put a lot of pressure on myself, it can make me make the decision that is not the right one. But I still don’t have a decisive decision yet.”

While Jones has not formally announced that he is testing the NBA Draft waters, he is expected to do just that. And he would have until May 29 to withdraw while maintaining his collegiate eligibility.

So, chances are, it's going to be a while before Memphis knows definitively whether it will have Jones back for another season. But Hardaway, who said last month he feels like there's a "70-30" chance Jones returns, remains optimistic that his first-team all-conference performer will be back.

What's the likelihood of assistant coaching changes? We know Rick Stansbury is coming back, but will the other spots be retained? Dedrick Phillips, via Tiger Basketball Insider text group

Odds are very high there will be at least one change on the assistant coaching staff − potentially multiple.

That should not surprise anyone, considering there has been some amount of churn every offseason since Hardaway took over.

MEMPHIS BASKETBALL: How Penny Hardaway, PJ Haggerty and a change of plans led Colby Rogers to the Tigers

When will the AAC tournament be back in Memphis? It's been in Fort Worth for years. − Dawn Wilt, via Tiger Basketball Insider text group

My advice: don't hold your breath.

The AAC tournament is expected to remain in Fort Worth for at least the next four years.

Reach sports writer Jason Munz at or follow him @munzly on X, the social media app formerly known as Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Memphis basketball mailbag: Transfer portal, David Jones, staff changes