The NCAA decide to announce its decision regarding the status of Memphis Tigers freshman James Wiseman on Wednesday. And what a decision it was, as the governing body of college sports not only suspended the young man for a dozen games, but fined him.
We’ll get more into that in about a second.
One second later…
It’s The Morning After College Basketball.
The NCAA Fined An Unpaid Laborer
Joseph Nardone (@JosephNardone): It doesn’t matter that the NCAA filed it under “a charity of his choice.” If James Wiseman “must” donate $11,500 to be eligible to play college basketball again, it’s a fine.
The number makes sense from only a black and white viewpoint. Wiseman, who was reportedly unaware his family took any of Penny Hardaway’s money, is tasked with repaying the dollar amount borrowed. However, if his family needed to borrow that much money so the entire Wiseman clan could be closer to James’ sister, how in the world does the NCAA believe he’ll have that money to give back while trotting about the college basketball landscape not paid for his services?
Is the kid to take out a loan? Is his family to assume the projected NBA Draft Lottery pick will go uninjured the rest of the way, and risk long-term financial windfalls by breaking the bank?
Wanting to punish the Memphis Tigers because the university had some bravado isn’t ideal either. It’s being reported that the NCAA is not yet done with the school. Why? Not because Marky Mark Emmert and the NCAA Funky Bunch know there’s nefarious things laying around. It’s since the governing body’s feelings were hurt that Penny and company weren’t fully subservient the moment Wiseman’s eligibility was questioned.
The NCAA isn’t currently operating with much sense. Instead of using critical thinking to help come up with reasonable plans, punishments and/or whatever, it appears as though the NCAA is instead attempting to rally their “anti-pay-players” base.
It’s actually a playbook stolen from politics. Rather than being right or wrong, choose to defiantly be whatever your ideals (or lack thereof) are, hoping your base will support you no matter what… mostly for all the wrong reasons.
Nevertheless, James Wiseman, essentially a kid without a job, was fined five-figure dollars because of the actions of other people.
What We’ve Seen From James Wiseman
Blake Lovell (@theblakelovell): The off the court stuff is the main focus with Wiseman right now, but on the court, he’s put up the type of numbers we expected him to.
In the three games that he’s played, Wiseman has averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in playing just 23.0 minutes per game while also leading Memphis with 3.0 blocks per contest.
Obviously, it’s a small sample size, and the Tigers will be playing much tougher competition once Wiseman returns to action in January.
But still, there’s a reason he’s the potential No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. You can’t teach his size and wingspan, and his ability to impact the game on both sides of the court will only continue to get better.
So, while all the talk has been about Wiseman’s issues with the NCAA, there’s no doubt that NBA scouts are already pondering the possibilities of having him on their roster.
And no, this battle with the NCAA isn’t going to affect his draft stock. There’s no reason to even consider that.
Wiseman may be the most talented player in college basketball, and he’ll give Memphis a shot at winning the AAC once he’s back on the court.
Precious Achiuwa Becomes The Alpha
Joe: Precious Achiuwa had 16 points and 12 rebounds against the Little Rock Trojans on Wednesday night to help the Memphis Tigers win without their five-star freshman. He’s going to be key to the team’s success as Wiseman serves his suspension.
The good news? Achiuwa ain’t no slouch, B. A five-star himself, he’s now averaging 13-8 on 52% shooting from the floor. Couple him with DJ Jeffries, who added 15 points all in the first half on Wednesday, and the Tigers still have insane youthful talent.
Still, it’ll be Achiuwa tasked to play the Alpha role.
In a weird way, this could benefit the Memphis Tigers in the future. With Wiseman forced to sit, Hardaway will not only be able to see who else can offer what, but guys like Precious Achiuwa have a chance to make such a loud, impressive statement that, by the time Wiseman comes back, opposing teams won’t know how to deal with the Tigers.
Or, well, it could go poorly. The Tigers seem too talented, though, for it to go that route.
The Memphis Tigers’ Schedule
Blake: Wiseman won’t return until Jan. 12, which means that Hardaway and company will have to navigate the rest of their non-conference schedule and two AAC games without him.
Memphis will face three SEC teams during that stretch, as Ole Miss and Georgia will head to FedEx Forum while the Tigers will travel to Knoxville to continue the rivalry with Tennessee.
Elsewhere, matchups against NC State, Bradley, and UAB are on the schedule, and the two conference games will feature Memphis hosting Tulane while hitting the road to play Wichita State.
As is typically the case, no matter how the Tigers fare during the 12-game stretch, the NCAA Tournament committee will certainly factor how the team played with and without Wiseman into the mix.
Again, this is a team that should compete for a league title and make the tournament, and how many wins they can reel off with Wiseman sidelined will play a big role in their seeding.
But like my friend Joe mentioned, it’s not like Memphis lacks talent.
With Achiuwa taking on a larger load and others around him stepping up as key contributors, the Tigers should be just fine until Wiseman makes his triumphant return against South Florida.
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