Penny Hardaway building NBA mind-set as HS coach

East High School head basketball coach Penny Hardaway makes a point to his team during a timeout against Overton. (Photo: Nikki Boertman, The Commercial Appeal)

East High School head basketball coach Penny Hardaway makes a point to his team during a timeout against Overton. (Photo: Nikki Boertman, The Commercial Appeal)

During a recent Thursday game at East (Memphis) High’s cozy gym, the best show of the night came in garbage time.

That was when junior reserve James DeJesus came off the bench with a flurry of 3-point shots, connecting six times from beyond the arc to finish with 20 points on only a few minutes of action. DeJesus’ efforts drew cheers from the crowd and his more illustrious teammates along with a big smile from Mustangs coach Penny Hardaway.

Like many games of late for the top AAA team in the state and the top team in The Commercial Appeal’s Dandy Dozen, this one wasn’t close; the Mustangs won the District 16-AAA game 107-46 to improve to 19-3. But if you think Hardaway is going to let his Mustangs cruise into the playoffs, think again.

There’s always something to compete for.

“We’re breeding an NBA mindset here,” said Hardaway. “We instill that in them early … and these are great kids.”

It would be understandable if the Mustangs became complacent, biding time until the third week in March when…

Read Story

Share This Post