MEMPHIS, Tenn. — MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis Tiger head men’s basketball coach Penny Hardaway has announced the addition of prolific shot-blocker Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu (F, 6-10, UT-Arlington) to the roster for the upcoming 2022-23 season.
Akobundu-Ehiogu (kay-oh-duh-REACH-ee ack-oh-BOON-doo ay-he-OH-goo) joins two fifth-year players and 1,000-point scorers, Kendric Davis (G, 6-0, SMU) and Elijah McCadden (G, 6-4, Georgia Southern University), as additions to the Tiger roster this offseason.
“We couldn’t be more excited to add Kao to the Memphis Tiger family,” Hardaway said. “Kao represents everything we’re looking for here at the University of Memphis. He is a high-character young man with a tireless work ethic and brings infectious positive energy everywhere he goes. Kao impacts winning in so many ways. He is an elite shot-blocker with unmatched athleticism and an over 47-inch vertical jump, he runs the floor better than any big in the country, and he has a developing skillset that we are excited to see unleashed. He will quickly become a fan favorite and be a huge piece on our team in our hunt for a National Championship.”
Akobundu-Ehiogu, who will be a redshirt-senior with the Tigers, played the past two seasons at UT-Arlington, where he ended his career ranked third on the school’s all-time blocked shots list with 134 in just 47 games. His 2.9 blocks per game average during his career ranks fifth-most among all active Division I players, and he had nine games of five-plus swats.
Last season, Akobundu-Ehiogu was one of two UTA players to appear in all 29 games, and he made 25 starts and averaged 21.8 minutes per game. He shot 67.4 percent from the field (62-92) and had 16 games of five-or-more rebounds. As a redshirt-sophomore in 2020-21, Akobundu-Ehiogu averaged 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game in 18 outings after being cleared eligibility-wise in mid-December.
The Lagos, Nigeria native started his collegiate career at NAIA Southwestern Assemblies of God (Texas) University in 2018-19. He sat out the 2019-20 season and worked out in the Dallas area with acclaimed trainer Tyler Relph, and he prepped at Poteet (Texas) High School after moving to the United States when he was 13 years old.
The Tigers finished the 2021-22 season with a 22-11 record and the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014. In four seasons at the helm, Hardaway has amassed an 85-43 record, four-straight 20-win seasons and the 2021 National Invitation Tournament championship in addition to the 2022 NCAA Tournament appearance.
Hardaway’s 85 wins are second-most among 14 first-time NCAA Division I head coaches hired prior to the 2018-19 season and tied for third-most among Tiger head coaches in their first four seasons. In his tenure, Hardaway has mentored two first-round NBA Draft picks, three AAC Freshmen of the Year, five all-conference selections and five all-freshman honorees.