SPRINGFIELD — Rob Yanders, the founder of the Basketball Movement and Yanders Law, says his goals mirror those of NBA legend Penny Hardaway, who he met following Hardaway’s Memphis East game on Thursday night at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.
Hardaway was a player before his time, a 6’7 point guard who teamed with Shaquille O’Neal on the Orlando Magic and was also part of a world renown marketing campaign by Nike that became known simply as “Little Penny.”
Hardway is a native of Memphis and played his college basketball at
Now 45, Hardaway has returned to his roots in Memphis, coaching one of the nation’s elite grassroots teams, Team Penny, and has taken over at Memphis East High School, coaching a squad that has played a national schedule and knocked off some of the nation’s best.
Yanders says he and Hardaway may come from different places, but are trying to accomplish some of the same things.
“We’re both former pros trying to give back and do something special for kids and raise the level of the game,” he said.
Memphis East is slated to play Montverde (Fla.) on Friday in a semifinal game for the third time this season. The two teams split the first two games. But those are just a handful of nationally ranked teams and players.
“The schedule has been unbelievable,” Hardaway said. “We have given our guys an opportunity to go out there and showcase their talent on a national level. It has definitely prepared us for our district and state tournament run.”
Hardaway said coaching at the high school level has been an entirely different experience as he deals with parents and young kids.
“It’s been challenging coaching at the high school level because you have to deal with the parents and the different mood swings of the kids,” he said. “And they don’t really respect what you have done in the past if you aren’t Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson. They just know I played a long long time ago so they don’t remember that.”
Penny has coached his son Jayden Hardaway this season after the 6’4 2017 guard moved from Miami, Fla. to Memphis in the offseason.
“It has been an amazing pleasure because I have been wanting him to come to Memphis for awhile because I want him to get used to the toughness of the city,” Penny Hardaway said. “I want him to get the opportunity to play at the next level in the basketball world because the south Miami conference he was in previously isn’t as tough as what we are playing this year. I’m glad his mother allowed to come this season.
“It just isn’t as physical. Memphis guys play a tough schedule and play against great guards every night and that’s what we wanted.”
The younger Hardaway went for 11 points and connected on three 3-pointers, going 3 for 4 from behind the arc in 20 minutes.
“It is really special,” Jayden Hardaway saidof his move to Memphis East. “It is a once in a lifetime chance and getting to go through this process of getting to learn and be coached by my dad especially. He is the best coach I have ever played for and I feel blessed to be able to play for him.”
Hardaway doesn’t currently hold any offers but has drawn interest from Memphis, Ole Miss and local schools.