Earl Timberlake puts up a shot against North Carolina State on January 9, 2021. [CREDIT: Austin Sapin / Miami Athletics]
Earl Timberlake’s freshman season at the University of Miami didn’t go as he’d hoped, but he’s ready to bounce back, and he thinks he’s found the perfect place to do it.
“I’ll be attending the University of Memphis,” Timberlake told DMVelite on Wednesday night. “I feel like I can learn a lot from [Tigers head coach] Penny Hardaway and his coaching staff. I felt like once I got into the portal and I was talking to him, we had a lot in common from our backgrounds and stuff he went through. I just felt like he was real personable and he could relate to a lot of things going on. I feel like I can learn a lot from him, from him being a big guard, and he was one of the best, pre-injury. So I feel like I can pick his brain on little things and learn a lot from him on and off the court.”
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound former DeMatha Catholic (Md.) standout said he also considered Gonzaga, LSU, Providence and Seton Hall, but ultimately felt that Memphis was the best fit for him with its style of play.
“I feel like Memphis, they put emphasis on defense,” he said. “If I’m not mistaken, they were one of the top teams in the country on defense this year. [He’s correct; the Tigers finished No. 1 in the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency rating, allowing just 86.4 points per 100 possessions.] I feel like I can add to what they’ve got right now with me bringing my versatility over there. I just want to learn a lot from Penny and for him to show me the way to get to my overall goal, which is getting to the NBA.”
Timberlake was projected by ESPN as a potential 2021 first-round NBA draft pick when he arrived at Miami, but dealt with ankle and shoulder injuries and only played in seven games - three of them starts - for the Hurricanes. He was strong in that limited action, averaging 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He entered the NCAA Transfer Portal in early March.
“I learned a lot,” he said of his year in Miami. “I learned that the game can be taken away from you at any moment, and it’s a blessing to play basketball and it's a blessing to be healthy to wake up every morning. I never took the game for granted, but I know this made me appreciate the game even more. I learned a lot as far as taking care of my body, taking care of my academics and things like that. There’s no bad blood in Miami; I’ve still got love for my teammates and for the coaches. I just felt like I needed a fresh start, and I think this is best for me and my family.”
Miami's Earl Timberlake (13) shoots over Virginia Tech's Hunter Cattoor (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020 in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP, Pool)