Since the beginning of the 2019-2020 season, RJ Hampton was the only prospect talked about as a possible pick for the Memphis Grizzlies. However, the breaking news of James Wiseman declaring for the draft changes that.
The city of Memphis has been enveloped in a major NCAA scandal since mid-2008, as James Wiseman has been switched between eligibility and ineligibility due to his relationship with current Memphis Tigers coach Penny Hardaway.
The story of Wiseman didn’t come to public attention until 2019, when the NCAA suspended him for 12 games, finally making him eligible in January.
However, that all seems to have come to an end now, as Wiseman has left the University of Memphis to sign with an agent and prepare for the 2020 NBA draft, according to Shams Charania:
This move, though it leaves the Tigers without a starting center, makes the 2020 NBA draft all the more interesting for the Memphis Grizzlies. Wiseman has stayed in the city of Memphis since his high school days, and would presumable love to play in the same city which rallied behind him against the NCAA.
On Nov. 20, the NCAA announced that it would be suspending Wiseman due to a breaking of the organizations financial rules. In August of 2008, Penny Hardaway, who at the time had no connection with the school, donated $1 million to the University, thus becoming a booster in the eyes of the NCAA.
Then, nearly 10 years later in 2017, Wiseman to East High School in Memphis, as his family relocated from Nashville. East High School’s coach at the time was Penny Hardaway, who Wiseman had played under previously in the AAU.
On March 20, 2018, Penny Hardaway was named the head coach of the Memphis Tigers, in an attempt for the university to bring some buzz back to its team. Haradaway immediately began recruiting Wiseman.
However, that wasn’t what got the Tigers in trouble. According to the NCAA, Hardaway had helped the Wiseman family during their move and, although he wasn’t the coach, as a booster (due to the $1 million donation) that made Wiseman ineligible.
Wiseman and the Tigers tried to fight, but eventually Wiseman decided to drop his lawsuit and leave the University, declaring for the NBA draft.
The decision could make the upcoming draft an interesting one for the Grizzlies. Until now, Memphis had been gunning for the #1 overall pick in order to secure the rights to RJ Hampton. However, with Wiseman now also available in the draft, Memphis has a little more breathing room when it comes to what position they pick in.
Wiseman, although some consider him the #1 overall pick, could see his stock plummet slightly due to something I’m calling the “Luka Doncic effect”. That is, a lack of content from him. Wiseman only played in a handful of NCAA games, and the level of play between the AAU and the NBA is a vast leap. Plus, Hampton has been bugged by an injured shoulder, which could cause less risky teams to pass on him in the draft.
Wiseman’s entry in the draft is sure to make the 2020 draft an interesting one for Memphis, as they look for those last few pieces to turn the team into a playoff contender.