College Basketball Preseason Top 25: #15. Memphis

Joe Jackson leads the senior-laden Tigers. (Nelson Chenault/USA TODAY Sports)

Joe Jackson leads the senior-laden Tigers. (Nelson Chenault/USA TODAY Sports)

15. Memphis Tigers

Memphis has been highly touted by a lot of college basketball experts for the recruits it has brought in since John Calipari left, but the results on the court haven’t matched the enthusiasm in the magazines. The Tigers finally earned their first NCAA Tournament win under Josh Pastner last season, then were summarily blown out by Michigan State in the round of 32. If Memphis is ever going to take the next step and become a legitimate contender, this might be the year. The Tigers return top scorer Joe Jackson (13.6 ppg, 4.8 apg) and go-to-guy Chris Crawford (10.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg). Jackson and Crawford are a dynamic duo in the backcourt, and Crawford continuously made big plays down the stretch, including taking over in the Conference USA championship game last year. Both are seniors and will rely on their experience in key spots to get the job done this year.

Pastner also brought in Missouri transfer Michael Dixon, who had to leave Columbia after allegations of sexual assault were brought against him. All of the charges were eventually dropped. On the court, Dixon could make a huge difference–if the NCAA grants his waiver to allow him to play immediately. He’s a terrific defender and capable scorer, and his presence would have a big impact on the Tigers’ backcourt. Whether or not he can play, there’s still plenty of talent on this roster, with senior guard Geron Johnson (10.8 ppg) returning. There are also several highly-regarded recruits, including 6-9 swingman Kuran Iverson, who is related to future NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson (they’re cousins). Iverson could have an immediate impact on this team.

BOTTOM LINE: Memphis should be immediately competitive in the American Athletic Conference, which is really just a re-tread of the old Conference USA, with UConn and Temple mixed in. The Tigers have plenty of experience, and a nice crop of freshmen who should be able to make an impact right away. If Michael Dixon is ruled eligible, this team becomes a real threat at making a deep NCAA run. If not, they’ll still have more than enough to challenge for the AAC title.

Click here to see our Entire Top 25.



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