The biggest candidate for the No.1 in the upcoming NBA draft, James Wiseman, decided to leave his Memphis Tigers, and start preparing for the pros all by himself. It is by far the most unexpected news this year, which will have a massive impact on the NCAA landscape.
Wiseman revealed the news earlier today on his Instagram account.
“Today, I formally withdrew from the University of Memphis, and I will be preparing for the next chapter of my life,” he wrote, igniting an avalanche of reactions throughout the social networks.
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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 🐯🔵🐯
His career didn’t even start properly, yet Wiseman already got in the middle of the media attention because of the negative circumstances. The NCAA ruled him ineligible just three days following his debut for the Memphis Tigers, during which he scored 28 points and had 11 boards in 22 minutes against South Carolina State.
After a conducted investigation, the evidence of Penny Hardaway’s financial help to his family in 2017 appeared, and that was interpreted as a violation of the NCAA recruitment rules. Meanwhile, he would get a temporary restraining order against the decision, and he played one more game before NCAA suspended him for 11 games midway through November.
Also, his family had to give $11,500 to charity, which is the same amount Penny Hardaway spent while allegedly covering the expenses of the Wisemans when moving to Memphis.
According to all the media, Wiseman was a top recruit out of high school before the start of this season. With 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds, he was the most dominant player in the nation averaging 25.8 points, 14.8 boards, and 5.5 rejections. Wiseman earned the Gatorade National Player of the Year award, and also Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year award along with several other honors.
His bond with coach Penny Hardaway is very strong. In 2017 Wiseman appeared for Team Penny during the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, and in August of the same year, he transferred to Memphis East High School, where Hardaway became the head coach. But even then, he had problems and was ruled ineligible for the season because of the so-called “athletic coach link” with Hardaway. After missing a couple of games, that suspension was terminated, and Wiseman appeared for Memphis East, becoming the No.1 player of the team and one of the best in the country.
Last season he was the absolute superstar of the high school basketball, and although he didn’t want to jump to some better program, Wiseman was the top target for all the best NCAA programs.
Unfortunately, his stint with the Tigers didn’t last for too long.
“Ever since I was a little kid, it’s been a dream of mine to play in the NBA. … 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,” he stated on Instagram.
Even with everything that happened, and the fact that he isn’t going to have a competitive season, Wiseman is still the biggest favorite for the top choice in the NBA draft. The stories about his landing in San Francisco or New York already appeared, but the draft lottery will say its verdict in the end.
Anyway, if he gets picked from the No.1 place, Wiseman will become the top pick with the fewest games played in the NCAA with only three of them. The previous record was held by Kyrie Irving, who had just 11 college appearances before being drafted as the No.1 by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.