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James Wiseman, potential top pick in NBA draft, leaves University of Memphis

James Wiseman, a potential No. 1 pick in the next NBA Draft, has left the University of Memphis to prepare for his professional career. Wiseman was serving a NC...
PK Invitational – Memphis v Oregon

James Wiseman, a potential No. 1 pick in the next NBA Draft, has left the University of Memphis to prepare for his professional career.

Wiseman was serving a NCAA suspension — one that would have kept him off the court until January 12. The NCAA levied the punishment after judging that his family had improperly accepted money and he had played while ineligible.

Wiseman, a 7-foot-1 center, played in just three games this season, averaging 19.7 points on 77% shooting.

“Ever since I was a little kid, it’s been a dream of mine to play in the NBA,” he wrote on Instagram. “… 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,” Wiseman wrote on his account. “I want to thank the coaches and staff for all their support and my teammates for pushing me everyday at practice.

Second-year head coach Penny Hardaway said he supported his star player’s decision.

“We wish nothing but the best for James in his future endeavors as he follows his dreams. He will truly be missed,” Hardaway said.

Wiseman was suspended for 12 games by the NCAA because Hardaway, while he was a high school coach, in 2017 gave the player’s family $11,500 so they could move to Memphis and attend East High School.

Wiseman filed a civil complaint against the NCAA, but in November withdraw the lawsuit and continued to practice with the team, but didn’t play in games. Memphis (9-1) is ranked 13th in the USA Today poll.

The NBA Draft will be on June 25, 2020.