James Wiseman on Memphis Situation: Felt Like in 'Middle of a Hurricane'

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Former Memphis center James Wiseman described his turbulent fall with the Tigers like being "really in the middle of a hurricane."

In his first public interview—a conversation with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowskithe potential top-3 pick in the 2020 NBA draft addressed his departure from the Tigers and his NBA future.

"That's like the worst place you could possibly be," Wiseman said. "Just having the mental agony and the suffering, crying every night because I just wanted to get on the court so much."

On Dec. 19, Wiseman announced that he had left the University of Memphis and was turning his attention to the NBA.

His departure from Memphis came 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. 

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 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. Wiseman 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 at the time.

"I wanted to have a great collegiate career," Wiseman said. "I wanted to win a national championship. But throughout the course of the first two games, everything started to go down in terms of my mental [well-being]. I was getting depressed. It was dehumanizing for me.

"I felt it was unfair because they notified and alerted me at the last minute. Coach Penny told me about it. I was really down and shocked. When I got suspended for 12 games and had to pay back the money, that was kind of surreal. I didn't really have any knowledge of [the violation] or all the ramifications behind it."

Per Wojnarowski, Wiseman is working out "twice a day" in preparation for the draft. He chose Excel Sports for his professional representation

In the end, the center played played three games for the Tigers, averaging nearly 20 points per game on 77% shooting from the field.