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Memphis' Great American Scrimmage

Will the year of the Tiger reign over the American conference?

This upcoming 2013-2014 college basketball season has filled the air in Memphis with questions. Will the newly formed American Athletic Conference, remnants of the Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt conferences, hold hope in the form of a 4th NCAA tournament appearance for the Tigers under the tutelage of Josh Pastner (52-12 in C-USA play, 106–34 overall)? Has the off-season re-equipped the Tigers for an arguably stronger field of play that now includes Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals, fresh from a championship season? With those thoughts lingering, the focus undeniably shifts to what's next for the team, and more specifically who can help usher in a legacy.

With a recruiting class that includes the nationally recognized talents of Dominic Woodson, a 6'9” center from Huntington, West Virginia (averaged 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 points per game his senior year), Rashawn Powell, a 6'1” point guard from Orlando, Florida (Redshirting, State Top 10), Kuran Iverson, a 6'8” small forward from Waynesboro, Virginia (cousin of Allen Iverson, Nation Top 10), as well as the local talents of 6'4'' shooting guard Markel Crawford (Melrose High School), 6'6'' small forward Nick King (East High School, avg. 14.4 ppg), and 6'8'' power forward Austin Nichols (Briarcrest High School, avg. 12.4 ppg), it seems that the freshman bench this year will have the focus of the Tiger's fans. Kuran Iverson has gone on record as saying that this could very well rival the depth of the Kentucky Wildcats recruiting class, who have been heralded as the #1 recruiting class in the nation. With stats and claims like those, this season could very well spawn some great 4 year collegiate careers across the entirety of this basketball generation.

And what's to be said for the players who have experience at this level of the game? The return of senior guards Chris Crawford, Joe Jackson, and Geron Johnson, all of whom have prior NCAA tournament play and averaged a combined total of 34.4 ppg, who all look to make their final year standout. The signing of Michael Dixon, a former Missouri guard who averaged 13.5 ppg and named 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in his final season there, after months of waiting for clearance from the NCAA adds a presence for inside perimeter to complement to outside shooting of the overall team.

The skills of the roster of the 2013-2014 Memphis Tigers paints a collage of experience in the midst of change. This season will not break Pastner, this is just as new to him as it is to his players, and all they can do is adapt. However, the melting pot that is the American Athletic Conference can prove to push him and his basketball program to unseen heights despite schedule difficulty. If attention is paid incoming months to the players molding into the form of the team, the Memphis Tigers can be qute the team to watch.