The NCAA has ruled Memphis center James Wiseman ineligible, though the potential top pick in next year’s NBA draft will be able to play Friday night after a court issued a temporary restraining order.
Tigers coach Penny Hardaway in 2017 provided $11,500 in moving expenses to aid the Wiseman family’s move to Memphis, the school said in a statement. The NCAA has deemed Hardaway a booster, Wiseman’s attorney Leslie Ballin said in a news conference.
However, a Shelby County court judge on Friday halted the NCAA’s ruling for the time being, making Wiseman eligible to play Friday night when the No. 14 Tigers host Illinois-Chicago.
Memphis said in a statement that the NCAA had declared Wiseman eligible in May, but months of investigation followed, ultimately finding documentation of the moving expenses.
“The University is currently working with the NCAA staff to restore his playing status, and we are hopeful for a speedy resolution to the matter,” the university’s statement said.
The 7-foot-1 Wiseman, who starred in Memphis’ season opener on Tuesday, was the top college basketball recruit in ESPN’s 2019 rankings and is the top player in ESPN’s rankings for the 2020 NBA Draft.
Hardaway, who is in his second season as Memphis coach, had previously coached Wiseman on the grassroots circuit with the Team Penny/Bluff City Legends program. He also coached him at East High School in Memphis en route to a state championship.
Wiseman has been considered one of the elite prospects in the 2019 class for the past couple of years, and he maintained his No. 1 recruit ranking after a strong summer on the Nike EYBL circuit, where he averaged 15.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, while shooting better than 50 percent from the field.
Wiseman chose in November 2018 to play for Memphis over Kentucky. He also took official visits to Florida State, Kansas and Vanderbilt.
He led Memphis with 28 points and 11 rebounds in the No. 14 Tigers’ 97-64 win over South Carolina State on Tuesday, dazzling with dunks, alley-oop finishes and offensive rebounds followed by putbacks.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Jeff Borzello contributed to this report.