The Memphis Tigers‘ top recruit, James Wiseman, officially withdrew from the university Thursday, after playing only three games. The confirmation was posted on Wiseman’s Instagram page along with his intention of entering the NBA Draft.

Wiseman has been in headlines for other reasons besides his talent this season. On November 5, the NCAA informed Memphis that the freshman sensation had been ruled ineligible “based on alleged recruiting violations.” That same night he made his college debut scoring 28 points and grabbing 11 boards.

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His ineligible status came from controversy over an $11,500 payment to Wiseman’s mother, Donzaleigh Artis, from Memphis Head Coach Penny Hardaway, for moving expenses during the summer of 2017. Since Hardaway donated $1 million to the team’s athletic department in 2008, he is considered a “booster” and is not permitted to provide financial assistance to prospective student-athletes and/or their families, according to NCAA bylaws.

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The university attempted to appeal the NCAA’s ruling and Wiseman’s lawyers filed for a temporary injunction that allowed him to play while the situation was examined. Much to both parties chagrin, Wiseman was suspended in November for 12 games.

Hardaway released a statement that said, “We wish nothing but the best for James in his future endeavors as he follows his dreams. He will truly be missed.” The coaching staff was reportedly surprised at his decision, but the Nashville native is currently meeting with sports agencies, according to sources.

Golden State Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr was asked about the Memphis freshman leaving school. Despite the fact that he can’t directly talk about a prospect, according to NBA tampering rules, Kerr told ESPN, “Two of the top prospects are playing professionally in Australia. I think the trend is — guys are at least starting to think of other options. I know there’s been players who have just taken a year off or played at the IMG Academy until they were draft-eligible. So the NBA is getting a lot better with player development through the G League. I know there’s been talk of changing the rule in terms of draft eligibility. So there’s all kinds of things stirring out there and it looks like the players are considering their options.”

The 7’1”, 240 pound center was the top ranked freshman in 2019’s “ESPN 100.” Although his play was limited, his stats and his NBA-ready physique were indicative of what he could become. Wiseman averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and three blocks per game this season and according to experts, Wiseman is projected to be drafted number one overall in the 2020 NBA draft.

View this post on Instagram

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 ???

A post shared by James Wiseman (@bigticket_j13) on

 

 

 

 

 

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