The 901: U of M prepares to select next president; Ja Morant mentors U of M player

Mark Russell
Memphis Commercial Appeal
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Good Tuesday morning, Memphis, where we're waking up to cooler temperatures and a big Grizzlies' win Monday night against the Nuggets.

But, first, the University of Memphis is edging closer to selecting a successor to President M. David Rudd, who is stepping down from the president's role late this year to become a professor.

Memphis will formally select its 13th president Nov. 9, but the likely successor could be known as soon as Friday, our Laura Testino reports.

The Board of Trustees will vote to select the president Nov. 9 at 3 p.m. 

University of Memphis President M. David Rudd  speaks during a press conference at Fogelman Executive Center Middle School on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021.

Before the board will be a recommended candidate from the board's executive committee. That committee will meet Friday at noon to review the three finalists and make its recommendation for a new president.  

Both the Friday and following Tuesday meetings are open to the public. 

The university is considering three finalists who will be on campus for presentations to students, faculty, staff and the community this week.

Tennessee Sen. Brian Kelsey responded to the news that he was indicted in a campaign finance conspiracy alongside a Nashville social club owner.

Brian Kelsey surrenders to authorities

Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, turned himself in to authorities Monday morning after being indicted on federal campaign finance law violations last week, Mariah Timms, from our sister paper, The Tennessean, reports.

He was arraigned in federal court Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey S. Frensley and ordered to surrender his passport, according to David Boling, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Nashville.

A federal grand jury in late October indicted Kelsey and the owner of a Nashville social club in a campaign finance conspiracy. 

Kelsey was charged with violating several campaign finance laws as part of a conspiracy to benefit his failed 2016 campaign for Congress. The 44-year-old sitting senator was charged along with Joshua Smith, 43, the owner of The Standard club in Nashville.

Which Memphis-based hip-hop artists have the most juice? 

The Memphis rap renaissance continues apace in 2021. In fact, this past year has seen Bluff City hip-hop artists hit the top of the charts, grab headlines (both good and bad) and build their brands across the music, media and cultural landscape, our music writer Bob Mehr reports.

Memphis rapper Yo Gotti has joined the ownership group of MLS franchise D.C. United.

While it’s hard to say who the hottest acts might be at any given moment, we’re offering a kind of power rankings of the Top 5 Memphis rap figures right now.

Although there’s a whole crop of acts — Big30, Pooh Shiesty, Key Glock, Big Scarr, Clay “Krucial” Perry III and Duke Deuce among others — who might break their way into the list in the coming months, here’s a look at who’s got the juice now. 

Lion King roars into the Orpheum with a Memphian in key role

"You have to be a lion," the actor said. "There are certain movements and ways to walk, just to be a lion." 

Memphis' Jaylen Lyndon Hunter is the young Simba in a touring production of "Disney's The Lion King."

Who's speaking? A veteran method actor, versed in the performance theories of Stanislavski?

"You have to have fun," the actor added. "That's the main goal."

Fun. OK, now Jaylen Lyndon Hunter, a star of the touring production of "Disney's The Lion King," sounds more like what he is: a cub. Er, make that a kid. Or, more specifically, a Memphis kid, our John Beifuss reports.

Jaylen, 11, has the key role of young Simba — the orphaned lion cub who grows up to be the title King of the Pride Lands — in the show, which pads into Memphis Nov. 11 for a 15-day run at the Orpheum, Beifuss reports.

Memphis Grizzlies forward Kyle Anderson (1) shoots against Denver Nuggets forward Jeff Green (32) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Powered by Morant and Jones, Grizzlies beat Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets knew they had to key one Memphis Grizzlies point guard Monday night. Tyus Jones made sure they had to watch two.

It was double trouble with Morant getting to the basket and Jones relieving him to hit from long distance. The two even closed the game together, something the Grizzlies have rarely done, our Evan Barnes reports.

Jones and Morant combined for 43 points in the Grizzlies 106-97 win at FedExForum.

How did full-strength Tigers look in tune-up game against Lane College? 

It wasn’t perfect – few things are.

The Memphis basketball team, in its second and final exhibition outing before embarking on what it hopes will be an historic season, committed 20 turnovers against Division II Lane College. It shot 27.3% from the 3-point line. If Lane had grabbed just one more rebound, the Tigers would have lost the battle of the boards to a team at a decided size disadvantage, our Jason Munz reports in this story for subscribers.

So it went on Sunday for the most intact version of the 12th-ranked Tigers there has been this preseason. Every member of the roster got into the game, including Emoni Bates, Landers Nolley II and Johnathan Lawson, each of whom missed the first exhibition for various reasons. 

(Not a subscriber? You can become one and get all of the Tigers' coverage this season. You can find the best deals here.)

Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant takes in the Tigers vs Lane Dragons game at FedExForum on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021.

Ja Morant is mentoring Emoni Bates

The Grizzlies' transcendent star, point guard Ja Morant, is taking the Tiger's new star under his wing, our Mark Giannotto writes in this column.

Here's an excerpt from Mark's column: 

Emoni Bates sent the text message to his favorite NBA player to let him know Memphis had a game at 1 p.m. Sunday, an exhibition against Lane College that would also double as Bates’ debut in a Tiger uniform.

“I’ll be there,” Ja Morant wrote back, and there he was seated courtside right as the ball was tipped on his newest protege’s college career.

There is a blossoming bond between the two basketball players in Memphis drawing the biggest national headlines, a relationship that crystallized over the past 24 hours or so.  

Mark Russell is executive editor of The Commercial Appeal. He can reached at 901/288-4509 or [email protected] You can also follow him on Twitter: @MarkRussell44

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