Memphis

Potential Warriors NBA draft target James Wiseman declared ineligible

Potential Warriors NBA draft target James Wiseman declared ineligible

Today is a bad day for college basketball and its fans.

Memphis star freshman James Wiseman -- the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft -- was declared ineligible.

The school issued the following statement:

University of Memphis student-athlete James Wiseman has decided to withdraw his lawsuit against the NCAA and the University. The University supports the decision, as it believes it is in James' and the men's basketball team's best interests to resolve his eligibility issue expeditiously through the NCAA process.

In order to move the matter forward, the University has declared James ineligible for competition and will immediately apply for his reinstatement. Pending that notification, James will be withheld from competition but will continue to practice with the team.

The NCAA is fully aware of the unique nature and challenges in this particular case, and the University is confident that the NCAA will render a fair and equitable decision consistent with its mission. 

Spoiler alert -- it will be shocking if the NCAA renders a fair and equitable decision.

Sorry Warriors fans, but you probably won't be able to watch the 18-year-old phenom again this season. Neither will Golden State's front office:

Wiseman, who is listed at 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds, averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in his first three games with the Tigers, while shooting 77 percent overall and over 70 percent from the free throw line.

The Warriors currently have a 2-10 record, and it's not inconceivable that they end up in position to draft Wiseman in June.

So why is he ineligible exactly? As ESPN's Jeff Borzello writes:

The school acknowledged last week that [Penny] Hardaway, before he became the Tigers' head coach, provided $11,500 in moving expenses for Wiseman and his family to move from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017. At the time, Hardaway was Wiseman's AAU coach and would then coach him at Memphis East High School. Hardaway, a Memphis alum, was considered a booster due to a $1 million donation he gave the school in 2008 to build a sports Hall of Fame.

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Wow. Hardaway is nothing short of a monster and Wiseman should never be allowed to play basketball again.

That's obviously a joke, and it's a complete joke that Wiseman can't suit up for Memphis right now.

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Warriors execs scout top 2020 NBA draft prospect James Wiseman up close

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USATSI

Warriors execs scout top 2020 NBA draft prospect James Wiseman up close

The Warriors likely will pick much higher than they've gotten used to in June's NBA draft. 

Golden State is a league-worst 2-9 this season, appearing like a lock to keep the top-20 protected 2020 first-round pick the Warriors sent to the Brooklyn Nets as part of the Kevin Durant sign-and-trade. The Warriors would have no shortage of options if they picked at -- or around -- the top of the draft, and their front office got an in-person glimpse at Memphis center James Wiseman on Tuesday night, according to The Athletic's John Hollinger. 

Wiseman, plagued by foul trouble early, finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds as Memphis lost to Oregon on Tuesday night.

Wiseman will be one of, if not the best player available in the draft. The 7-foot freshman center averaged 22.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game entering Tuesday's game, and the 18-year-old has the upside to develop into something the Warriors have not had in the Steve Kerr era: A truly dominant big man.

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How much more Wiseman will play this season remains to be seen. The NCAA ruled Wiseman ineligible for taking $11,500 from current Memphis coach Penny Hardaway in order to help Wiseman's family move when he transferred to play for Memphis East, the high school Hardaway was coaching at the time. A Shelby County, Tenn. judge placed an immediate temporary restraining order on the college athletics governing body shortly after the NCAA's ruling. Plus, as SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell noted, Memphis has not ruled Wiseman ineligible and the Tigers plan to continue playing him. 

Myers' presence at the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, as well as that of Harris and Dunleavy, suggests the Warriors are taking their new reality very seriously. Golden State will need the lottery balls to bounce its way, too, in order to select Wiseman, but the Warriors should have done their due diligence by then, at least.