by Kalen Ingram
The new recruit for Memphis Tigers provides a confidence boost for our city’s basketball lovers.
James Wiseman — a senior attending East High School — is the number one recruit in the 2019 class for collegiate basketball. Wiseman was born in Nashville and attended Ensworth High School. Wiseman transferred to East High School in 2016 because of his close relationship with the then-assistant coach, Penny Hardaway. Wiseman became acquainted with Hardaway after playing on his summer Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team, the Bluff City Legends.
After transferring to East, Wiseman faced a possible violation of the TSSAA “prior link” rule. The rule states: “If a student with an athletic record transfers to a new school where an ‘athletic coaching link’ existed in the past 12 months, that student is ineligible for 12 months at all levels in the specific sport where a linkage was present.” This applied to Wiseman because he played on Hardaway’s AAU team within the year. East High School asked TSSAA officials for a appeal, but it was ultimately denied. This prevented AAA champions James Wiseman and Ryan Boyce, another transfer student, from playing in the 2017-18 season.
After this ruling, Wiseman was able to play in the 2018-19 season as a senior. He received 18 college offers but only showed consideration to eight: Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida State, Texas, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Memphis. Kentucky was believed to be Wiseman’s top choice. However, on Nov. 29, James Wiseman, the No. 1 ranked prospect in the 2019 class, committed to the University of Memphis over Kentucky. Wiseman cited his close relationship with Penny Hardaway as his reason for choosing Memphis.
Memphis has fostered a long tradition of basketball pride. With the excitement and loyalty paid to our Memphis Tigers and the passion for the Grizzlies, Memphians have proven their love for basketball. The recruitment of Wiseman to the Tigers has a positive impact on Memphis basketball. It is a Memphis tradition to give back to the community what the community has given to you. Both Wiseman and Hardaway add to the city optimism for a great season. In Hardaway’s first year as the Tigers’ head coach, he has successfully recruited the number one prospect. Hardaway’s efforts elevate the Memphis basketball program and the city’s winning spirit.
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