Not even three weeks into the his first season as head coach and Penny Hardaway is already changing the Memphis Basketball landscape in a drastic way.
James Wiseman, the No. 1-ranked recruit in the 2019 class, verbally committed to Memphis on Tuesday.
Wiseman stands tall at 7’ even and has a 7’6” wingspan, which is considered elite by NBA standards. He’s a force on both ends of the floor. He is able to move quickly up the court, which will fit well in Hardaway’s fast pace offense. Although he has a good mid-range shot, Wiseman likes to play with his back to the basket in the post and has a signature left hand hook, which is pretty much unstoppable.
Wiseman is the first top-10 recruit to commit to Memphis since Adonis Thomas did in 2011.
The losing suitors
Kentucky, who is led by former Memphis head coach John Calipari, was the other school heavily favorited to land Wiseman. Calipari made it his top priority during the recruitment process this year.
However it was Wiseman’s relationship with Hardaway that ultimately made the “Unicorn”, as he is nicknamed, to pick Memphis over Kentucky. Hardaway has coached Wiseman on two separate occasions. Once on the grassroots circuit with the Team Penny/Bluff City Legends and at East High School (Tennessee), where they won a state championship together.
Wiseman is the third recruit Hardaway has gotten to commit next year, having already landed five-star small forward D.J Jeffries (ESPN’s No. 21 Ranked Recruit) and four-star center Malcolm Dandridge. Memphis is also hoping to add five-star forwards Precious Achiuwa (No. 10) and Trendon Watford (No. 23).
This is a huge step forward in Memphis trying to keep Memphis recruits in the city. Keeping homegrown recruits in Memphis has always been a Tiger tradition, but since Calipari left, it’s been difficult to keep them in town. With Wiseman, Hardaway has proven he can do this, and relatively quickly too.
Watch out for the Tigers next year.
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