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Highlights, top storylines from Memphis basketball pro day

Earl Timberlake (neck) participates, Penny aims for shorter bench in 2021-22

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More than 75 NBA scouts and executives were inside the Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center Wednesday for Memphis pro day.

Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates tried to treat it like "just another day in practice," Penny Hardaway knew what the exposure to draft evaluators meant to his players.

"This is like Disney World for these kids," he said. "It definitely means a lot because you have the scouts here, showing these kids that when you come to the University of Memphis, you're going to get to be seen in front of scouts before the season starts."

Duren, one of the top prospects for the 2022 draft, turned heads with his athleticism and versatility on both sides of the floor. Bates, who will not be draft eligible until 2023, came in hoping to show off his playmaking ability.

"That's definitely been the goal my whole life, trying to get to the NBA, but at the same time, I don't want to rush it," Bates said. "Just take it day-by-day."

Evaluators also marveled at the 7-foot-7 wingspan of Chandler Lawson, who stands 6-foot-7.

Wednesday's other surprise: Miami transfer Earl Timberlake was a full participant in pro day after missing most of this summer following neck surgery. 

Hardaway said it was Timberlake's third practice since the procedure, and just his fifth since transferring to Memphis.

"He still has to get the kinks out, but he's been very special for us," Penny said.

Even with so much talent on the roster, Penny has a short bench in mind.

"It's not going to be the free-for-all, 12 to 13 guys," he said. "It's going to be the toughest 9-10 guys that are willing to play the game the right way on both ends of the floor."