How Penny Hardaway, PJ Haggerty and a change of plans led Colby Rogers to Memphis basketball

Colby Rogers was already high on Memphis basketball.

After all, the Wichita State transfer — who committed to play for coach Penny Hardaway on Sunday — initially had planned to visit Alabama, then Memphis. But Rogers made a last-minute switch, opting instead for an in-person meetup with the Tigers first — a fortuitous alteration for them, as it turns out, because he never made the trip to Tuscaloosa.

When fellow incoming transfer PJ Haggerty began lobbying the prolific 3-point shooter to join him at Memphis, it made for an even smoother decision-making process.

“Obviously, you want to be on a team that has talent and guys capable of playing at a high level,” Rogers told The Commercial Appeal on Sunday. “I know PJ – (AAC) freshman of the year, big-time player. So when he reached out to me and said he wanted to play with me, it was a great feeling.

“Another great player who wants to play with you, it makes things easier.”

It was not an overly complicated move for Rogers in the first place. Not after he and Hardaway broke bread. It was a comfortable courtship from the jump, according to Rogers, who was also drawing heavy interest from Kansas, Michigan, USC, Arkansas, Oklahoma and St. John’s.

The 6-foot-4 guard has developed a strong reputation as an elite marksman. He shot 40.9% from 3-point range at Wichita State and made 99 (17th-most in the country). Two years earlier, he hit 42.9% of his 3-point attempts, the seventh-best clip in the nation that season.

All of which made him a highly coveted player when he entered the transfer portal. But Hardaway and the Tigers were who he coveted.

Rogers had multiple conversations with Hardaway even before he stepped foot on campus.

“He was transparent,” said Rogers, who toured the Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center, watched film with Hardaway and attended the first half of the Grizzlies’ season finale Sunday against the Nuggets at FedExForum. “I told him my goals. He told me his goals for me. Things I need to work on, where he sees I can contribute, where he sees I can go.

“All I want is the opportunity. Everything else rests on me, but Memphis is the best place to offer me all the resources I need.”

Rogers was already somewhat acquainted with the Tigers before Hardaway ever reached out to him. With Wichita State, he played three games against Memphis last season, averaging 17.3 points, 3.0 assists and hitting 52.1% of his 3-point attempts. He also had a front-row seat to the disappointing end of the Tigers’ season, as he and the Shockers upset them at the AAC tournament in March.

Now Rogers is set on helping, not hurting.

“My goal is to play in March and bring that vibe back to the city,” said Rogers, who played his first two seasons at Cal Poly. “In college, I haven’t been on teams that have won at a high level. So that’s a big thing for me.”

While Rogers is a strong 3-point shooter, he is no one-trick pony. He sports a career 81.9% free-throw percentage and has averaged 12 points or better each of his past three seasons.

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But Hardaway is not interested in Rogers straying far from his strengths.

“There are things I know I can get to another level on,” Rogers said. “But (Hardaway) also told me, ‘Don’t go away from what got you here. Don’t reinvent what you are.’ I want to add another level to my game, but not get away from what I do best.”

And if he can take a page out of Haggerty’s book and lend a hand with recruiting, Rogers is game.

“Yeah, I mean, if they need me to reach out and help a guy consider Memphis, I’m definitely willing to do it,” he said.

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: How Penny Hardaway, PJ Haggerty led Colby Rogers to Memphis basketball