Memphis freshman center James Wiseman, the No. 1 overall recruit in the Class of 2019 and a candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, announced on Thursday he has left the university and will sign with an agent as he begins preparing for the 2020 NBA Draft. Wiseman has been sidelined since mid-November serving an NCAA suspension of 12 games.
The NCAA cleared him to return on Jan. 12 after an investigation revealed he and his family received impermissible benefits from Tigers coach Penny Hardaway.
Wiseman announced on Instagram his intentions to leave the university and that he has signed with an agent.
Despite sitting out due to the NCAA's decision, Wiseman is expected to be one of the top five players available in the 2020 NBA Draft. Wiseman was the No. 1 selection in many before he was forced to sit out after just three games. Last week, he was the No. 4 player in my updated NBA Draft prospect rankings.
"We wish nothing but the best for James in his future endeavors as he follows his dreams," said Hardaway in a statement. "He will truly be missed."
In a statement from the university, Memphis said the news was "disappointing."
"The UofM supports James and his family in his decision to leave to prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft, and will continue to follow James in what will certainly prove to be a successful career," the statement said.
Wiseman's 12-game suspension stemmed from Hardaway giving Wiseman's family $11,500 towards moving expenses before Wiseman committed to Memphis and before Hardaway was the Memphis head coach. Due to NCAA rules, that was ruled an impermissible benefit because Hardaway donated $1 million to the University of Memphis in 2008, making, by the letter of the law, Hardaway as a booster.
The combination of Wiseman's size (7-foot-1), wingspan (7-6) and his overall skill all but ensures, good health providing, that he'll be among the first five picks in the NBA Draft next summer.
Wiseman in total played just three games this season for the Memphis Tigers. In those games, he averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks.