The James Wiseman saga — at least as it pertains to the University of Memphis basketball program — has concluded. The freshman star announced Thursday, via Instagram, that he will depart the college program and begin preparing for an NBA career. Wiseman is projected to be a top-five pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
From Wiseman's Instagram post: "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. . . . 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. . . . The friends and fans of Tiger Nation will always hold a place in my heart."
Wiseman was the centerpiece in a freshman class ranked tops in the country, the largest jewel in Penny Hardaway's second recruiting class. After scoring 28 points in his college debut on November 5th, Wiseman learned that his eligibility came into question by the NCAA, the result of a payment ($11,500) Hardaway made to Wiseman's mother to help his family move to Memphis from Nashville in 2017. (Wiseman played the 2017-18 season at East High School for Hardaway.) He played in the Tigers' next two games before the university accepted a 12-game suspension, one that would have had Wiseman back in uniform when the Tigers play at USF on January 12th.
The Tigers have won all seven games they've played without Wiseman, including three against "Power 5" competition: Ole Miss, North Carolina State, and Tennessee. With an overall record of 9-1, they return to FedExForum Saturday to host Jackson State. American Athletic Conference play opens on December 30th when Tulane comes to town.