Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Memphis Adds 2nd Transfer in Illinois Big Dain Dainja

Dain Dainja announced his commitment to the University of Memphis on his Instagram page Friday morning.
Dain Dainja announced his commitment to the University of Memphis on his Instagram page Friday morning.

Penny Hardaway and the Tigers picked up their second commitment in two consecutive days with the addition Illinois big man Dain Dainja announcing his commitment Friday morning.  

Dainja, a 6’9 225-pound center, appeared in 38 games last season coming off the bench for majority of the season for the Fighting Illini, averaging 6.1 ppg and 3.6 rpg, but most know him for what he did in the 2022-23 season.  

He started in 21 games and averaged 9.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 1.2 blks. His production dropped last season due to coach Brad Underwood seeking more versatility in his lineup.  

This is another huge get for the Tigers, as the need for a center was apparent with the departures of Malcom Dandridge and Jordan Brown as they have exhausted their college eligibility. Dainja, who just turned 21 in January, has two more years of eligibility left and is expected to have a big role in the lineup next season.  

Dainja brings a good level of experience to Memphis with him as well, which is something Hardaway has sought after in his recruiting classes over the last three years. He was a part of the Illinois team who won the 2024 BIG 10 championship and had a big game in their quarterfinal matchup against Nebraska putting up 18 points and 8 rebounds. He also contributed to the Fighting Illini’s elite 8 run, putting up 21 points and 8 rebounds in their first-round matchup against Morehead State. Collectively, he averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds in this year's NCAA tournament. 

Like PJ Haggerty, Dainja was a player who garnered a ton of national interest once he entered the portal. He heard from over 50 schools once he entered the portal on Monday, but ultimately chose Memphis after his campus visit which was expected by fans and local media.  

With star guard David Jones’ return still in question, Penny Hardaway has been working hard early to build around him or be in a good spot if he were to leave. With the additions of Haggerty and Dainja, the Tigers look more attractive than they did after their season ended in the AAC tournament against Wichita State. When it comes to Jones, the only thing to do is wait to see what happens, but so far, the future of Memphis basketball looks bright. 

Similar Posts