The wait for James Wiseman is over.
The Memphis Tigers’ and national college basketball fans were patiently waiting Wiseman’s return on Jan. 12 from an NCAA-imposed 12-game ban. That was the punishment for his mother accepting an $11,500 gift to move the family from Nashville to Memphis.
But almost certainly the next time anyone sees Wiseman suit up, it will be in the NBA. He’s withdrawn from the University of Memphis and is hiring an agent. From his Instagram page:
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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 🐯🔵🐯
The reaction to the midday release by Wiseman sent shockwaves locally and nationally. Many people did not blame Wiseman for the decision to leave early and start working on his game for the NBA Draft in 2020. Among them, apparently, is the University of Memphis Athletics program.
“Although disappointing, the UofM supports James and his family in his decision to leave to prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft,” said a statement posted at gotigersgo.com, adding the UofM “will continue to follow James in what will certainly prove to be a successful career.”
Hardaway, who coached Wiseman in AAU and at East High School and was the $11,500 benefactor who helped Wiseman’s family relocate to Memphis, also had a brief statement posted at GoTigersGo.com:
“We wish nothing but the best for James in his future endeavors as he follows his dreams,” said Hardaway, who will certainly be peppered with questions at Friday’s media availability. “He will truly be missed.”
Some cheered the fact that since the NCAA did Wiseman wrong, it is only right that they will never profit from him playing in the tournament. Others blamed the NCAA for the hard penalty that occurred unknowingly by Wiseman when he was in high school.
The ceiling for the team will clearly be lowered as well as the expectations for this season. The team is currently 7-0 since Wiseman began his suspension. The team may still make the NCAA Tournament this season after not making the tournament for the last five seasons.
As part of the NCAA suspension, Wiseman was not allowed to travel on road games with his teammates. After the victory over the Tennessee Vols, Wiseman facetime his teammates to congratulate them on the win.
Being away from his team and the outside noise from people who could benefit from the upside of Wiseman’s decision to sit out may have led to this decision.
The Tigers play Jackson State University on Saturday, Dec. 21 at FedExForum, their first home game since the announcement. Tipoff is at noon.