Despite Missing Most of His College Career, James Wiseman Still Became a Top NBA Draft Prospect

On November 18, many young basketball athletes will have their dreams come true when they hear their names call during the 2020 NBA draft. For so long, these players have worked hard to get to this moment of their lives. James Wiseman is a player that will hear his name called early in the NBA draft.

Wiseman is a top prospect, and even though he did not have much of a college career, he still caught the eyes of many NBA teams.

James Wiseman was a standout in high school

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Wiseman is a native of Nashville, Tennessee, and attended Memphis East High School, where he played for former NBA star Penny Hardaway. The 7-foot-1 big man dominated on the court during his high school career. He attended The Ensworth School during his freshman and sophomore year before transferring to Memphis East. As a junior, Wiseman led Memphis East to a TSSAA Class AAA championship, and he led all scorers with 19 points in the game. He averaged 18.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game during his junior year and earned a spot on the MaxPreps Junior All-American third team.

ESPN ranked Wiseman the No. 1 player in the class of 2019 during his junior season. During his senior year, Wiseman led his team back to the state championship, and they finished as state runners-up. He averaged 25.8 points, 14.8 rebounds, and 5.5 blocks in his final year of high school and was named Gatorade National Player of the Year and Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year. 

Wiseman was rated a five-star prospect by ESPN and 247Sports. He decided to commit to the University of Memphis to play under his high school coach, Penny Hardaway. The talented center was expected to have a productive freshman year.

James Wiseman was ruled ineligible to play at Memphis

The Memphis basketball program was excited to have Wiseman on the team, and they could not wait to see what he would do on the court. He made his regular-season debut on November 5, 2019, against South Carolina State and finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. Three days later, after he made his NCAA debut, Wiseman’s lawyers announced that the NCAA ruled him ineligible to play for the school. According to an ESPN article, Memphis stated that Hardaway paid $11,500 to help Wiseman and his family move to Memphis in 2017.

According to Wiseman’s lawyer, the NCAA said that Hardaway acted as a booster. Wiseman was allowed to continue to play when a judge granted him a temporary restraining order against the NCAA’s ruling. He only appeared in three games during the season and averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds. On November 20, 2019, the NCAA ruled that Wiseman would be able to return on January 12, 2020, following a 12-game suspension.

After missing seven games during the suspension, Wiseman decided to leave Memphis and hire an agent to prepare for the NBA draft. 

James Wiseman is projected to be a top-three pick in the NBA draft

Wiseman will hear his name called early in the draft, despite only playing three games during his college career. Gary Parrish of CBS Sports released his final NBA Mock Draft ahead of draft night, and he has Wiseman going No. 2 to the Golden State Warriors. Parrish stated that the top five picks in the draft could go in any order, but for now, he has Wiseman going to the Warriors.

Wiseman could be a good fit in Golden State if they do decide to keep the No. 2 pick and draft him. One area that the Warriors lack is their big man presence, and Wiseman could develop into a productive frontcourt player for the Warriors. After experiencing many off-the-court issues during his college career, Wiseman remained focused on his main goal, which was making it to the NBA.