news 5 days ago

James Wiseman will continue to play for Memphis while eligibility case proceeds, Penny Hardaway says

Sporting News — (Tom Gatto)

James Wiseman will remain on the court for Memphis despite doubts about his NCAA eligibility, Tigers coach Penny Hardaway said Friday night.

"He will continue to play," Hardaway told reporters after Memphis' home victory over Illinois-Chicago.

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Hours earlier, a judge in Memphis issued a temporary restraining order allowing Wiseman to suit up, after Wiseman sued the NCAA and Memphis over the NCAA's determination that the 7-1 freshman was "likely ineligible" because of recruiting violations. The matter is now subject to further litigation, the (Memphis) Commercial Appeal reported.

"James has a right to do what he did," Hardaway said in an interview with ESPNU prior to his meeting with reporters.

The eligibility issue stems from Hardaway giving Wiseman's mother, Donzaleigh Artis, $11,500 for moving expenses in 2017 as Wiseman's family relocated from Nashville to Memphis. Hardaway was coaching high school basketball in Memphis at the time. Wiseman played one season for Hardaway at East High before following him to the University of Memphis in November 2018. Wiseman was the No. 1 recruit in the nation when he signed with the Tigers.

The NCAA considers Hardaway a Memphis booster because of his $1 million donation to the university in 2008, the Commercial Appeal noted. That would make his payment to Wiseman's mother improper under NCAA rules.

Memphis said in a statement Friday evening that the NCAA cleared Wiseman to play last May after a joint investigation by the association and the university. According to Wiseman's lawsuit, the NCAA told Memphis on Oct. 31 that "certain recruiting violations had taken place" based on an interpretation of its bylaws. 

Wiseman, who is seen as a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, has played in each of Memphis' first two games this season. He is averaging 22.5 points and 10.0 rebounds after Tigers wins over South Carolina State and Illinois-Chicago.