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Memphis men's basketball assistant coach Rasheed Wallace to finish season working remotely

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First-year Memphis basketball assistant Rasheed Wallace will not be with the Tigers in an in-person capacity the rest of this season, coach Penny Hardaway said Wednesday.

Wallace, a former NBA All-Star, has not been present for any of the team's games since the win over Alabama on Dec. 14 or any of the team's practices since Dec. 17 (the day before Memphis' scheduled game versus Tennessee was called off). Over the past few weeks, Hardaway has indicated Wallace's absence is due to health and safety protocols related to COVID-19.

Ahead of the Tigers' next game Thursday against SMU, Hardaway said the decision for Wallace to work remotely "in more of a consultant's role" the rest of the season was a mutual one.

“He’s still part of who we are,” Hardaway said. “He’s still a coach, even though we’re saying he’s in a consultant’s role. (But) with his health and safety, I said, ‘Hey, can you just be a consultant, basically, remotely? We still want your opinion and your assessment of what’s going on. Get on Zoom with the guys.’ The same things he would do if he was here.”

Memphis Tigers assistant coach Rasheed Wallace yells out to his team during their game against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 9.
Memphis Tigers assistant coach Rasheed Wallace yells out to his team during their game against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 9.

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Wallace, who primarily works with the Tigers' centers and forwards, will continue to be paid by the university and no adjustments will be made to the terms of his agreement, according to a team spokesperson.

Hardaway did not close the door on the possibility that Wallace could eventually return to work in-person, although he did not seem optimistic about that.

“Right now, I would say no,” Hardaway said. “I don’t know what happens later in the season. We just keep plugging along, man. That’s what we have to do.”

Since Wallace has not been on the bench, director of basketball operations Rodney Hamilton has taken his place. Hardaway said that will likely continue as long as Wallace is not present.

Memphis (9-7, 3-3 AAC) has lost back-to-back games and sits in sixth place in the American Athletic Conference standings.

Freshman center Jalen Duren said the team has missed Wallace's energy and mentorship.

"In the short time he was here, I definitely learned a lot from him," Duren said Wednesday. "He texts all the bigs and forwards kind of before the games sometimes, just kind of gives us some encouragement and lets us know what we've got to look forward to. Still kind of keeps his voice very alive, just keeping us focused."

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

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Rasheed Wallace won't coach in-person for Memphis this season

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