The top-ranked player in college basketball’s class of 2019 has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
James Wiseman — a 7-foot-1 center for the Memphis Tigers — was the crown jewel of head coach Penny Hardaway’s monster recruiting class for this year. According to The Ringer’s NBA analyst Kevin O’Connor, the Nashville, Tennessee, native and his family accepted payments from Hardaway so they could move to Memphis, Tennessee, in 2018.
—Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) November 8, 2019
Some outlets, including the local network WMC Action News 5, suggested that Wiseman could continue to play for the Tigers before the NCAA takes further action. And even though many people deemed it unlikely that Wiseman would play again for Memphis, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello reported that the star freshman would, in fact, suit up for the Tigers’ Friday night game.
—Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) November 8, 2019
—Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) November 8, 2019
It’s no wonder that Wiseman was a much-coveted asset coming out of high school. With a massive frame and polished skills on both ends of the floor, Wiseman cruised to a cool 25.8 points, 14.8 rebounds, and 5.5 blocks per game during his senior season at Whitehaven High School. He was poised to be one of the brightest stars in college basketball this season and was overwhelmingly named a preseason first-team All-American.
Beyond the implications that Friday evening’s announcement have on Hardaway, the Tigers, and the NCAA at large, Wiseman’s ineligibility could shake up the 2020 NBA draft. The 18-year-old is the projected No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, but his ineligibility will almost certainly affect his NBA prospects before the draft in June.
Whether Wiseman stays in school or chooses to take his talents abroad remains to be seen, but the news has certainly sent shock waves through the entire world of college basketball.