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Penny Hardaway hired as Memphis basketball coach: report

Penny Hardaway and Jason Kidd were once teammates on the Suns. | Mike Fiala/AP Photo

Former NBA superstar Penny Hardaway has agreed to become the next head coach of the Memphis men’s basketball team, reports ESPN. A news conference announcing the hire is expected Tuesday.

Hardaway, a Memphis native, starred at the school from 1991-93 before moving on to a successful NBA career. He’s never had a major coaching gig before so this is his first opportunity in such a role. The 46-year-old is replacing Tubby Smith, who was fired just five days ago after two seasons with the Tigers.

The Magic selected Hardaway with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, and he went on to become one of the best players in the league. A unique talent given his size and ability to put the ball on the floor as a point guard, he made four All-Star teams and earned All-NBA first team honors twice.

Early in the 1997-98 season, Hardaway suffered a major knee injury that had an impact on the rest of his career. He would leave the Magic in 1999 to join the Suns, where he was a useful contributor but far from the superstar he had been at his peak. Following a few seasons with the Knicks and Heat, he retired in 2006.