James Wiseman has never had a chance to see what it could be. His opportunity was denied by others, sure, but more to the point that he never gave the opportunity to himself.
If there was no NCAA suspension to keep him off the basketball floor these past weeks, he could understand the ecstasy available to a Memphis player playing for Memphis in Memphis. There is a connection between the city and the Tigers, especially those that are Memphis, which is unusual in college play.
Wiseman was ready with this piece in the first two games of his very short career. His coach, Penny Hardaway, understands the feeling better than anyone. He’s part of what brought him back to the city after leaving the NBA, back in training, and eventually becoming a Tigers coach.
And the collective possibilities were limitless. The constant rotation at the top of the Associated Press poll, the results that almost nightly affect the highest-rated teams, and the Tigers’ upset performance in Wiseman’s absence suggest all the potential of this team – his team – was enormous.
On Thursday, via an Instagram post, Wiseman said he was leaving the University of Memphis and would wait to get ready for the NBA 2020 draft. The college career is over with these little totals: three games, 59 points, two games.
A 7-1 center with a burgeoning jumpshot, he was the first prospect in the recruiting class of 2019. He will leave, however, having the slightest impact on college play since the NBA age limit settled in 2005 and Greg Oden became the first giant talent for to attend college in a dozen years.
“When you get a player described as a pedigree talent and then that happens, you can’t help but think ‘What if? “Dave Woloshin, who has been playing-by-play for Tigers basketball since 1986, News. ‘I’m really sad for him personally. I see him as a victim. But I have no idea what has changed.’
MORE: College Basketball Athlete of the Decade
Memphis is unbeaten in Wiseman’s suspension. There was so much excitement in the city for what could have been possible when his brightest home talent returned to a team that without him won on the road in Tennessee and at UAB, at home against Ole Miss and in a neutral court against NC State. With Duke and Kentucky losing mid-length, with Michigan State recovering from Joshua Langford’s injury, it looked like a team of this tough, augmented by such a charismatic player, to join the ranks of the genuine nationals contenders.
Woloshin acknowledged that he began thinking about this when Kentucky fell to a neutral court late Wednesday in a growing (and undefined) Utah team.
Wiseman had not played for the Tigers since losing in November. He was declared ineligible and subsequently reinstated on the grounds that he is serving a suspension of 12 games to be returned to court in mid-January.
All this time away from the game is a time when the negatives of college-level competition could be highlighted by those interested in Wiseman’s future profit potential.
For one, there is the current ban on competing. The fact that such a situation could develop after it was informed in May that there would be no problems was inevitably distrustful of the NCAA. There is the possibility of injury, which is inevitably exaggerated in such a discussion but not fantastic. (He could also be injured, making the pre-training plan promised in his place). And there is the wait for the money that will be available to him as soon as he enters the professional game.
He may be a professional, but he may not be an NBA player. So it’s not very readily available to him. He can move to a nice, new home using the credit that will be easily available to him as a projected top pick in the draft and do so beyond the NCAA’s purview. Perhaps he could sign a ratification agreement with a sportswear company, though he has less leverage at this point in such a deal than when the destination of the destination was cleared or if it had ended this season as a final four heroes.
Wiseman played just one game for the Tigers, scoring 28 points and grabbing 11 rebounds the first night against the State of South Carolina, before the NCAA indicated to Memphis that he was probably ineligible. The decision comes from a $ 11,500 payment made by Hardaway to the Wiseman family when James moved from Nashville to Memphis to play high school basketball for the Hardaway East High. Hardaway said publicly that the NCAA was aware of this in May, when the organization apparently approved him to compete, but the controversial decision came to school as the Tigers prepared for their second game. In the end, the NCAA decided to suspend 12 games. Either he served this suspension or none of them became a semantic exercise.
Wiseman will not be penalized in the plan for taking this approach. His talent is very evident for the teams to remove him. But he has sacrificed the opportunity to compete for something important and to spread his brand beyond those who see him merely as the type that has been suspended. There is value to it, or there would be no celebration at the Pelicans’ box office when their organization won the lottery to pick Zion Williams.
And there is intangible value, as could be seen in Zion’s incessant smiles after every Duke victory in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. He expressed how much he enjoyed his experience, how much he cared for his teammates, how badly he wanted to win.
Within five months, Wiseman could leave a lasting impression on his adopted city. Instead, he leaves.