18 MEMPHIS

The Tigers have the range to end a string of tournament one-and-dones
November 12, 2012

The proof arrived on Oct. 12 in front of a crowd of over 15,000 at the FedEx Forum. Tigers sophomore forward Adonis Thomas had launched about 2,000 long-range shots a week during the summer and early fall, trying to improve his already deft outside touch. Though he had never competed in a three-point-shooting contest before, Thomas—who attempted only 37 threes last year—blew away the field at Memphis Midnight Madness, burying 17 of 20 three-point attempts.

"Adonis is already playing and shooting at a very high level," says Josh Pastner, who in his three seasons as the Tigers' coach has led Memphis to two NCAA tournament berths, both of which ended in opening-round defeats. "His best basketball is ahead of him. He's going to be a big part of what we do this season, but I really like our entire team. No question, we have great potential." The Tigers will feature three former McDonald's All-Americans on their roster: junior guard Joe Jackson, freshman forward Shaq Goodwin and Thomas, a 6'8", 238-pound potential lottery pick.

Last season was a disappointment for Thomas. One of the top recruits in the nation coming out of Melrose High in Memphis, he suffered a left-ankle injury, underwent surgery and missed 15 games. He returned on March 8 but then was held to six points in a 61--54 NCAA tournament loss to Saint Louis. Having considered declaring for the NBA draft—he most likely would have been a late-first-round choice—Thomas moves this year from power forward to small forward, his natural position. From the wing he will be a threat to both drive hard to the rim and, thanks to all those off-season hours in the gym, pull up for a three.

"I wanted to give the NBA scouts a chance to see all of my skills," Thomas says of his decision to return to Memphis. "Plus, we believe we can make a run in the tournament. We have as much talent as anyone."

Tournament Tracker

TITLE GAME

FINAL FOUR

ELITE EIGHT

SWEET 16

ROUND OF 32

ROUND OF 64

'08--09

'09--10

'10--11

'11--12

'12--13

Projected Starting Five

COACH Josh Pastner (4th season)

2011--12 RECORD 26--9

CONFERENCE USA 13--3 (1st)

WHAT'S BACK Minutes: 70.4% Points: 65.0% Rebounds 67.2%

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PG Joe Jackson 6'1" Jr. 11.0 ppg 3.9 apg
SG Antonio Barton 6'2" Jr. 6.6 ppg 2.3 rpg
G Chris Crawford 6'4" Jr. 9.1 ppg 3.8 apg
SF Adonis Thomas 6'8" Soph. 8.8 ppg 3.2 rpg
PF Tarik Black 6'9" Jr. 10.7 ppg 4.9 rpg
KEY RESERVES
F Ferrakohn Hall 6'8" Sr. 3.7 ppg 2.9 rpg
F Shaq Goodwin* 6'9" Fr. 21.2 ppg 12.3 rpg

Returning starter

*High school stats

Telling Number

34.3 REBOUNDS per game for the Tigers in '11--12, which ranked 178th nationally. And with top rebounder Will Barton (8.0) gone to the NBA, Memphis must improve on the boards to become an elite team.

PHOTOJOE ROBBINS/GETTY IMAGESADONIS THOMAS A summer spent launching threes left the forward, who struggled as a freshman, with a more well-rounded game.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)