James Wiseman Leaves Memphis to Prepare for 2020 NBA Draft

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Memphis freshman star James Wiseman takes the court before a game against South Carolina State.

Memphis forward James Wiseman has left the university, he announced on Instagram.

According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, Wiseman will hire an agent and prepare for the 2020 NBA draft.

"Today I formally withdrew from the University of Memphis and I will be preparing for the next chapter of my life. Ever since I was a little kid, it's been a dream of mine to play in the NBA. Throughout this process, I've asked God to ordain my steps and lead me in the right direction. God is my lord and salvation, and throughout this process he has comforted me," Wiseman said. 

"This was not how I expected my freshman season to be, but I'm thankful for everyone who has supported my family and me throughout this process. I want to thank the coaches and staff for all their support and my teammates for pushing me everyday at practice. I feel blessed for the opportunity to be a Tiger and for having the honor to play with these special group of guys. I can't wait to see what all they accomplish this season. The friends and fans of Tiger Nation will always hold a place in my heart. #GoTigersGo"

Wiseman's departure from Memphis comes amid a 12-game suspension he was in the middle of serving. He received the ban on Nov. 20 after the NCAA discovered his mother accepted $11,500 from coach Penny Hardaway to help the family relocate from Nashville to Memphis in 2017. Wiseman was still in high school at the time. The NCAA also ordered him to donate $11,500 to a charity of his choice. Memphis appealed Wiseman's suspension, which the NCAA ruled to uphold on Nov. 27. He was eligible to return from his suspension on Jan. 12, 2020, when Memphis faces South Florida.

Hardaway was an assistant coach at East High School in Memphis at the time he made the payment to Wiseman's mother. The NCAA determined he was a University of Memphis booster because he donated $1 million to the school in 2008 to help establish its Penny Hardaway Hall of Fame.

Wiseman, who is seen as a potential No. 1 NBA draft pick, was first ruled ineligible by the NCAA on Nov. 8, hours before Memphis' game against Illinois-Chicago. However, a Tennessee judge put the ruling on hold pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the forward against the NCAA. The forward later withdrew his lawsuit because it became "an impediment" to Memphis' efforts to reach a resolution with the NCAA on his eligibility status, his lawyers said.