MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - James Wiseman, the country’s number one college basketball recruit, committed to the University of Memphis on Tuesday.
It was billed as the Mid-South High School Basketball Classic, but it may as well be the University of Memphis Invitational.
On Tuesday night, fans packed a high school game to watch him play.
Penny had an “in” with Wiseman and his other 5-Star recruits that other colleges didn’t: he coached them at East High School, and he coached them to win.
Tigers fans came out in droves to get a preview of Memphis basketball's return to greatness.
With Wiseman's commitment to the Tigers, Memphis basketball is back, and so are longtime fans Randy and Theresa Williams.
"There's excitement in the air!" Theresa said.
"Everything's going up from here!" Randy said.
The Williams had season tickets for 22 years, but as the program stumbled, a ticketless decade of drought followed.
“Ten years, the whole Josh, Josh and Tubby, I didn’t agree with 'em,” Randy said.
When the University of Memphis hired Penny Hardaway as head coach in March, Randy bought season tickets the next day.
Memphis Madness, which was Penny's debut, was a sellout. The city and the Williams were sold on Coach Hardaway.
“More people wanting to see the Tigers play,” Randy said. “More people wanting to play the Tigers!"
Teddy Jasper, one of Penny’s classmates at Treadwell High, says Hardaway flexed his recruiting skills securing Wiseman, the nation’s top talent.
"Speechless! I couldn't believe it,” Jasper said. “But at the same time I expected it because I didn't put it past Penny to do what he had to do."
Jasper, like the Williams’, was at the Mid-South basketball tourney in Southaven on Tuesday night to watch Wiseman and DJ Jeffries, who decommitted from Kentucky and former Tigers Coach John Calipari to play for Hardaway in Memphis.
"Eat your heart out, Cal," Theresa said.
"So, we're back!” Randy said. “The Tigers are back!"
Memphis lands the best player in the nation; meanwhile, Kentucky and Coach Cal have now gone seven years without signing the number one player.
The three future Tigers met at half-court before the start of the game.
Their former and future head coach Penny Hardaway was in the house at the Landers Center to see this much anticipated match-up.
East beat Olive Branch 69-50.