University of Memphis Tigers basketball coach Josh Pastner expected a smooth transition into the off season, but it's already off to a rocky start.
Pastner and his team were in danger of heading into next season without one of their 2013 signees, Pookie Powell. Powell, former Dr. Phillips High standout, had plans of transferring to another school after a disagreement with Pastner about wanting to train with Frank Matrisciano, a former conditioning coach at the U of M, in California over the summer.
Pastner was not on board with Powell's training with Matrisciano, which made the shoot-first point guard think twice about staying at Memphis. However, the player's father, RaShawn Powell, contacted local newspaper The Commercial Appeal on Thursday to inform them that Pookie will stay at the U of M.
Before the final decision was made on Powell’s future, RaShawn and the family talked Pookie's decision over on Wednesday, along with assistant coach Robert Kirby, who flew to Orlando to meet with them.
"I got big belief in Pookie," Pastner said. "Pookie is two feet in. He's on the caravan moving forward."
With the four senior guards (Joe Jackson, Michael Dixon Jr., Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford) leaving, Powell is in position to compete for the starting spot at point guard. Powell didn't play or practice with the team this past season after failing to qualify academically with the NCAA last summer.
As a senior at Dr. Phillips High School, Powell (6-1, 177) averaged 28 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Rivals.com ranked Powell as the No. 95 overall prospect and the No. 20 point guard among the other guards in the 2013 class.
With Powell staying at Memphis, he will be one of four guards to compete for the starting point guard position for next season.
Redshirt freshman Markel Crawford (6-5, 185) didn't play at all this past season after suffering a torn ACL during his senior year at Melrose High School.
Dominic Magee (6-3, 180) from Helen Cox High School along with junior college player Avery Woodson from East Mississippi Community College (6-3, 195) will battle over the off season to start for the young and athletic Memphis team heading into the 2014-15 basketball season.