James Wiseman grew up in Nashville, Tenn., before finishing out his high school career with coach Penny Hardaway in Memphis. If you’ve watched a Warriors game this year, you probably know Wiseman also played three games at the University of Memphis with Hardaway before the Dubs made him the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft.
So, he was bummed to find out he would miss back-to-back games in Memphis last week due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
“That was hard because I got a lot of family in Memphis,” Wiseman told reporters in Tuesday’s postgame video conference. “I got a lot of friends in Memphis, so that was pretty hard over there.”
Perhaps some friends and family could have been in the stands to watch him play in person, as the FedEx Forum allowed limited attendance.
“My mom flew all the way from the Bay to Memphis and I couldn’t even play so it was even worse,” Wiseman said. “It was terrible.”
Wiseman returned to the floor for the Warriors in Tuesday's 108-98 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers after missing three total contests along with forward Eric Paschall due to NBA health and safety protocols. The rookie said he didn’t feel winded after playing 26 minutes, scoring 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting while grabbing four rebounds.
“It was just kind of weird,” Wiseman said of his three-game absence. “It kind of came out of nowhere, it was so random. But I just had to keep it together, stay strong and just try to get through it. But it was hard.”
Hardaway, the former NBA star, got the head coaching gig Memphis in 2018 and recruited the 7-footer to join him. But Wiseman was eventually ruled ineligible by the NCAA due to his connections with Hardaway, cutting short his college career.
Now Wiseman is set to be in the starting five for the rest of the season on a Warriors team trying to make the NBA playoffs, ideally as a top-six seed to avoid the Western Conference play-in games. He has had to stop and start throughout the year due to a wrist injury and COVID-19 reasons, but the Warriors need him to continue to develop during their playoff push.