Potential lottery pick James Wiseman ruled ineligible by NCAA, but will play

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Potential lottery pick James Wiseman ruled ineligible by NCAA, but will play

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- The feel-good season for No. 14 Memphis plunged into uncertainty Friday after the school said second-year coach and former NBA star Penny Hardaway gave more than $11,000 to the family of top prospect James Wiseman, who got a court order allowing him to play while the university tries to restore his eligibility in the eyes of the NCAA.

Memphis issued an extraordinary statement less than an hour before the Tigers played Illinois-Chicago at home, saying Wiseman was going to be kept out of games based on interpretation of a rule by the NCAA until the temporary restraining order obtained by Wiseman's attorney Leslie Ballin late Friday afternoon.

"The University is currently working with the NCAA staff to restore his playing status, and we are hopeful for a speedy resolution to the matter," the statement said.

The 7-foot-1 Wiseman was on the court Friday night for the national anthem and introduced with the starting lineup. Wiseman had three points and four blocks as Memphis jumped to a 30-13 lead.

"Particularly given the unique circumstances in this case, we are hopeful for a fair and equitable resolution on James' eligibility," Memphis President M. David Rudd said in the statement. "We support James' right to challenge the NCAA ruling on this matter."

Rudd says Memphis will accept responsibility for proven violations of NCAA bylaws but also "firmly supports James, Coach Hardaway and our men's basketball program" in this case.

The NCAA declined to comment.

Memphis said Wiseman -- the potential No. 1 pick in the NBA draft next June -- was declared eligible by the NCAA in May but further details and investigation by the university and the NCAA found Hardaway gave $11,500 in moving expenses to help Wiseman's family move from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017.

The university said Wiseman didn't know about the money given to his family.

At the time, Hardaway was the coach of East High School. Wiseman was a standout junior, helping Hardaway win his third straight Tennessee Class AAA title before being hired by Memphis as head coach at his alma mater in March 2018.

Wiseman committed to Memphis and Hardaway again in November 2018, the top player in what wound up the nation's No. 1 recruiting class for Hardaway.

The freshman did not play in either of Memphis' exhibition games with a right ankle injury. But he scored 28 points and had 11 rebounds Tuesday night in a 97-64 win over South Carolina State.

New athletic director Laird Veatch says Memphis will cooperate and be respectful and professional dealing with the NCAA while "availing ourselves of every resource" in the best interests of their student-athletes, coach and university.

"It is clear to me in my short time here that Memphians will stand up and fight, both for each other and for what is right, and I am proud to stand with them," Veatch said.

Memphis had its 2007-08 season vacated by the NCAA, which included a national runner-up finish and a school-record 38 wins, when Derrick Rose was declared academically ineligible.


Maryland misses out on impact transfer as PG Bryce Aiken picks Seton Hall

Maryland misses out on impact transfer as PG Bryce Aiken picks Seton Hall

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

For the second time this transfer cycle, Maryland found themselves near the top of the list of finalists for an elite, instant-impact transfer point guard to replace the graduating Anthony Cowan Jr. in the Terps backcourt. For the second time this transfer cycle, they fell just short.

Bryce Aiken, the dynamic point guard from Harvard who scored 33 points against Maryland in November, announced Thursday afternoon that he would be staying local to play for his hometown Seton Hall Pirates.

Maryland was in Aiken's final four schools and could have really used his added scoring punch, but ultimately he was swayed by the idea of staying home. According to basketball writer Adam Zagoria, Aiken was torn between Maryland and Seton Hall right up until the very end, but decided to go elsewhere.

The Terps are set to return a strong core of veteran wing players in Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Darryl Morsell and Donta Scott, but they are still looking to replace Jalen Smith in the frontcourt and Cowan in the backcourt. They are currently involved with Yale graduate transfer Jordan Bruner, who named the Terps in his final three schools and would fill Smith's spot as the top big man on the market. He is expected to announce his decision soon.

Head coach Mark Turgeon is also pursuing Michigan transfer David DeJulius, who has a connection to the Terps in his former assistant coach and current Maryland assistant DeAndre Haynes. It's unclear if DeJulius will receive immediate eligibility, potentially still leaving the Terps without an obvious replacement at guard beyond Ayala and incoming freshmen Marcus Dockery and Aquan Smart.


George Mason grad transfer Justin Kier enters transfer portal, could return to Patriots

George Mason grad transfer Justin Kier enters transfer portal, could return to Patriots

George Mason got a mix of good news and bad news on Wednesday. Their senior Justin Kier was granted a fifth year of eligibility after missing the majority of the season due to injury. However, on the same day, Kier announced that he is entering the transfer portal. 

"I'm blessed to have been given this season back so I can play another year of college basketball. After a lot of prayer and discussion with my family, I've decided to enter the transfer portal," Kier said in his post. 

Kier also said that he has not ruled out the option of returning to the Patriots next year.

The 6-foot-4 guard will immediately eligible to play for whichever team he plays on for the 2020-21 season. Had it not been for an injury-filled senior year, he would have been a four-year starter for George Mason. 

Two injuries to his right foot limited Kier to only playing nine games. A big loss for Mason that struggled to find consistency without him on the floor. Just the year prior he was named the Atlantic 10's Most Improved Player and made the Second Team.

Kier's fifth season was never for certain. A waiver to earn a medical redshirt for the year was a long shot given that he had returned from the initial injury and played nearly a third of the season.

With his ball-handling, attacking nature, and all-around defensive skill set, there will be teams interested in Kier. Through his collegiate career, Kier has played both as a point guard and as a two-guard. Since he has left the option open to return for Mason, he would likely want to go somewhere that would allow him to start and contend for a postseason tournament.