Pastner lands top local recruit

And that landing came in no small part to the Memphis Tigers' Midnight Madness production.

Adonis Thomas, a local Memphis kid ranked No. 9 overall in the class of 2011, was in the building on Oct. 15 when Memphis debuted a video featuring Penny Hardaway, among other former local Memphis stars. The video never explicitly mentioned Thomas, of course -- that would have been an NCAA violation -- but it wasn't exactly subtle, either.

The production values paid off. Thomas committed to Memphis Thursday on ESPNU, and he told ESPNU recruiting analyst Paul Biancardi the Midnight Madness video did factor into his decision:

"It did impact my decision," said Thomas, who chose Memphis over Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas and UCLA. "It was a privilege to listen to Penny Hardaway talk about what the city of Memphis and the University of Memphis meant to him."

Thomas is the first commitment to Memphis in the 2011 class and yet another major feather in second-year coach Josh Pastner's cap. That feather cuts two ways. Not only did Pastner maintain the recruiting momentum he began by building the No. 4-ranked class in 2010, but for the second year in a row, Pastner landed the top player from the state of Tennessee.

Under John Calipari, Memphis recruited the best recruits from all across the country. Under Pastner, the Tigers haven't missed a beat. But under Pastner, they're also growing locally. It's an impressive start, to say the least.