Before the college basketball season even began, Memphis Tigers center James Wiseman likely had one foot out the door. With a 7-foot-1 frame and a skill set beyond his years, it would have been impossible to imagine him staying in school after his freshman year. That officially became the reality, but it’s not what anyone wanted or expected.
Wiseman, who was in the middle of a 12-game suspension, officially withdrew from the University of Memphis on Thursday and plans to spend his time preparing for next summer’s 2020 NBA Draft. It’s not a shocking move. It’s simply one that could have been avoided.
Now, a preseason All-American is officially done playing for Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway after only three regular season games.
James Wiseman Leaves Memphis
Coming out of Memphis East High School, it was no secret Wiseman was going to be a one-and-done and with No. 1 pick potential. The NBA is where his game belongs, but he had to go to college first.
And thanks in part to the NCAA’s handling of the situation, those days are over.
“Today I formally withdrew from the University of Memphis and I will be preparing for the next chapter of my life. Ever since I was a little kid, it’s been a dream of mine to play in the NBA. Throughout this process, I’ve asked God to ordain my steps and lead me in the right direction. God is my lord and salvation, and throughout this process he has comforted me. This was not how I expected my freshman season to be, but I’m thankful for everyone who has supported my family and me throughout this process. I want to thank the coaches and staff for all their support and my teammates for pushing me everyday at practice. I feel blessed for the opportunity to be a Tiger and for having the honor to play with these special group of guys. I can’t wait to see what all they accomplish this season. The friends and fans of Tiger Nation will always hold a place in my heart. #GoTigersGo”Advertisement
— Memphis freshman James Wiseman
Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Wiseman moved to Memphis before his junior season to play for Hardaway, then his AAU coach for Team Penny before taking the Memphis East job. However, that move is what ultimately got him in trouble.
Earlier this fall, Memphis admitted Penny Hardaway gave $11,500 to Wiseman’s family back in 2017. And since Hardaway gave a $1 million donation to the school in 2008, he was considered a Memphis booster and the money to Wiseman’s mother was an improper benefit, per ESPN.
Wiseman was ordered to serve a 12-game suspension and would be allowed back on the court against South Florida on January 12. The reinstatement won’t be happening.
One of the best college basketball players in the country, the headliner for a monster recruiting class, has left the Memphis basketball team for good. No conference games. No NCAA Tournament. Nothing.
James Wiseman Memphis Highlights
All fans got to see was 28 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks against South Carolina State, 17 points, nine rebounds and five blocks against UIC, and 14 points and 12 rebounds against Oregon.
NCAA rules are still rules, and all student-athletes have to follow them. That’s understood. But this entire situation could have been avoided and, thanks to the NCAA, a promising college basketball career ended before it really got started.