Memphis Tigers guard Emoni Bates looks to drive the baseline against the defense of East Carolina Pirates forward Vance Jackson at FedExForum on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022.
Welcome back to the Memphis Sports newsletter. It’s Ray Padilla, the Commercial Appeal’s digital producer, with the latest in Bluff City sports news.
Freshman guard Emoni Bates was expected to rejoin his Memphis basketball teammates Sunday, according to coach Penny Hardaway.
"He'll get back into the fold," Hardaway said after Memphis' 88-60 victory over UCF. "We'll see what happens with his back and how much he can do. But whenever he's ready, we'll be ready for him."
Bates’ father, Elgin, said his son had “no plans at all” to leave Memphis before the end of the season, our Jason Munz reports.
How Bates fits into Hardaway’s already deep rotation if and when he is able to get back on the floor remains to be seen.
After Memphis' win over UCF, Hardaway sounded a lot more like the program legend that took the job with the greatest ambitions saying:
When we're healthy, we're the best team in the league.
Now, our Mark Giaannotto says they should party on and prove it then in his latest column for subscribers.
Here's more of what he wrote:
Memphis forward DeAndre Williams snarled and shouted expletives at UCF. Freshman Jalen Duren dunked so hard the rim looked like it might fall off. Landers Nolley II hit bank shots from the mid-post like he had returned to the court as a 6-foot-7 version of Tim Duncan.
When Tyler Harris zipped that one-handed pass to freshman Josh Minott like a shortstop throwing sidearm, and the rout was officially on, they all celebrated by breaking out their Ja Morant goggles.
The Tigers were finally back together and healthy again inside FedExForum, and romped past UCF, 88-60, Saturday night.
"The party was great today," Nolley said, just like he promised on social media before the game.
So great that Memphis (12-8, 6-4 American Athletic Conference) looked more like it was predicted to be than it has in a month.
Grizzlies add to highlight reel in win against Orlando Magic
The Grizzlies have create a national buzz unlike any team in franchise history and because of the fun style the Grizzlies are playing, our Damichael Cole reports. It was proven with all the highlights accumulated in Friday’s 135-115 win against the Orlando Magic.
While the team looks ahead toward Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, our Mark Giannotto asks in his latest column that the front office shouldn't mess with the magic these Grizzlies are making — at least, not yet.
Here’s an excerpt:
The quote that should inform the next week of this increasingly delightful Memphis Grizzlies season isn’t getting as much attention as the quote that had the rest of the NBA buzzing.
Ja Morant’s declaration after Wednesday’s win over the New York Knicks — “Ain’t no running in the M. We climb up the chimney. We ain’t ducking no smoke” — joins the pantheon of great Grizzlies mottos that came about organically to describe the moment during the Grit and Grind era.
But it’s what Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. said a few minutes later, seated next to one another inside the bowels of Madison Square Garden, that could be every bit as meaningful given what’s approaching.
“We’re watching something special,” Jackson said of Morant. “It’s nice to appreciate it at times.”
“Memphis, y’all like this right here?” Morant then asked rhetorically to close out his press conference. "... You’re going to be seeing it for a loooonngg time.”
National Signing Day: Memphis-area high school athletes who signed
Wednesday marked National Signing Day and there were many Memphis-area high school athletes who signed with colleges. Some of the colleges were to places like Tennessee State, University of Memphis, Alabama State, Arkansas State and the University of Tennessee.
Our Wynston Wilcox provides us with a list of athletes who as sent by Memphis-area coaches and athletic directors.
Memphis Grizzlies win against New York Knicks (120-108)
Memphis Grizzlies win against Orlando Magic (135-115)
Tigers basketball vs Cincinnati Bearcats game (Postponed)
Tigers basketball won against UCF Knights (88-60)
Mark your calendar
Memphis Grizzlies vs Los Angeles Clippers: Tuesday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m. at FedExForum
Memphis Grizzlies vs Detroit Pistons: Thursday, Feb. 10, 6 p.m. at Little Ceasears Arena
Tigers basketball vs Tulane: Wednesday, Feb. 9, 7 p.m. at FedExForum
Tigers basketball vs Houston Cougars: Saturday, Feb. 12, 2:30 p.m. at Hofheinz Pavilion
The Memphis Sports newsletter was written by Ray Padilla, the digital producer for The Commercial Appeal, and features stories written by Damichael Cole, Mark Giannatto and Jason Munz. Ray can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Ray_Padilla_.
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Memphis sports: Tigers need to show they are the best team in the AAC