Memphis star freshman big man James Wiseman has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA, his attorney told reporters Friday afternoon.
Wiseman, a 7-footer, was the top-rated recruit in the 2019 class in the 247Sports composite ratings and is considered a potential No. 1 selection in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Attorney Leslie Ballin said the NCAA determined that Memphis coach Penny Hardaway — before he was hired by the university — helped pay for Wiseman and his family to move from Nashville to Memphis in 2017. Hardaway, who previously coached Wiseman on the grassroots basketball circuit, coached Wiseman at East High in the 2017-18 season before taking the head coaching job with the Tigers for the 2018-19 season.
Wiseman signed a letter of intent in November 2018.
Ballin said he has filed a lawsuit on Wiseman’s behalf against the NCAA and the school, seeking relief to allow him to play.
“Please don’t mistake that for any type of friction or disagreement between Mr. Wiseman and the university,” Ballin said. “It is my understanding that the university supports Mr. Wiseman every step of the way.”
The NCAA has deemed Hardaway, a Memphis alum, a booster because he donated to the school in 2008, Ballin said. Therefore, any assistance given Wiseman or his family could be considered an impermissible benefit, under NCAA rules.
“Coach Hardway has done nothing wrong. His intentions have always been pure,” Ballin said.
Wiseman made his debut for No. 14 Memphis on Tuesday in a 97-64 win over South Carolina State, scoring 28 points with 11 rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes. He made 11 of 14 shots from the field.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)