MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The nation’s top basketball prospect in the class of 2019 is officially a Memphis Tiger. Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway told reporters James Wiseman, who committed to the U of M last week, has signed his national letter of intent to play for Memphis at his weekly press conference on Thursday.
The U of M made the news official on twitter only after Penny mentioned it while answering a question about recruiting. The news came as a bit of surprise since the NCAA basketball early signing period ended on November 21, and the school only announced two signings, Olive Branch forward D.J. Jeffries and East High School forward Malcolm Dandridge prior to Penny’s revelation.
“Early on it was 100 percent,” Hardaway said about his confidence in landing Wiseman. “But, then after he wanted to take some visits I was like, ‘oh.’ It’s his choice and right to do so, because I thought myself it was open and shut. Like, ‘ok, I’ve coached him. He understands what he means to me and what I mean to him,' but he had a right to go on those visits and see to those other schools. I was excited when he told me he was going to go ahead and commit to us.”
Penny coached Wiseman at East High School for a season, and won the 2017-18 TN Class AAA state championship together. He said Wiseman signing with Memphis makes the school more attractive to other nationally ranked recruits.
“You’ve got the number one player in the country,” Hardaway said. “I don’t know how many number one ranked players in the country have come to Memphis. I was the number one ranked player in the country coming out of high school, but to be able to do that now is great, because now other guys around the country are going to see that and say, ‘wow, Memphis might be a place for us to go, because James went there.’”
Penny now expects Wiseman and his fellow class of 2019 signees to recruit for the U of M, as the Tigers look to close out the recruiting class with another highly ranked prospect.
“I look at the situation going on right now at Duke, those guys recruited each other,” Hardaway said. “Coach K is awesome. I respect him totally, but those kids recruited each other. That’s what happens in today’s game. Those kids recruit each other. Hopefully he’ll bring a couple more five star guys with him.”