James Wiseman leaves University of Memphis to prepare for NBA draft

WATCH: James Wiseman leaves University of Memphis to prepare for NBA draft

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — University of Memphis basketball star James Wiseman has announced he is leaving the program to prepare for the NBA draft.

The number one recruit in the nation made the announcement on his Instagram page Thursday afternoon.

Content Continues Below

FOX13 viewer Keith Billingsley snapped this photo of Wiseman at Memphis International Airport Thursday morning prior to his announcement.

James Wiseman was spotted by a FOX13 viewer at Memphis International Airport Thursday, December 19, 2019.
James Wiseman was spotted by a FOX13 viewer at Memphis International Airport Thursday, December 19, 2019. (Keith Billingsley)

Wiseman will now hire an agent, officially starting the NBA pre-draft process. He was considered a top three prospect entering the season and that hasn’t changed.

His three games for the Tigers created even more excitement for pro scouts. NBAdraft.net projects him as the second pick right now.

The 11-ranked Tigers and their fans will move on without the top freshman in college basketball.

Late Thursday afternoon, the University of Memphis and head coach Penny Hardaway released the following statements about Wiseman’s decision:

Although disappointing, the UofM supports James and his family in his decision to leave to prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft, and will continue to follow James in what will certainly prove to be a successful career.
Statement from University of Memphis Athletics
We wish nothing but the best for James in his future endeavors as he follows his dreams. He will truly be missed.
Statement from University of Memphis Head Basketball Coach Penny Hardaway

Tiger fans also reacted to the news.

“It’s disappointing,” Tigers fan Brandon Bumgarner said. “We wanted him to play but in the end he’s a kid. He’s got to make his own decisions for his family, his well-being.”

WATCH: Fans react to news of James Wiseman leaving

BACKGROUND:

On November 8, the NCAA informed the UofM that Wiseman would be ineligible because head coach Penny Hardaway provided money for Wiseman’s family to move from Nashville to Memphis in 2017.

A temporary restraining order was issued against the NCAA, allowing Wiseman to play against Illinois-Chicago.

According to the NCAA, Hardaway is a booster and boosters can’t give prospects benefits or influence their decision to attend a school.

PREVIOUS STORIES:

Wiseman and his team of attorneys filed a lawsuit against the NCAA and a temporary restraining order was issued that allowed Wiseman to play.

Then on November 15, Wiseman withdrew his lawsuit.

Minutes after Wiseman withdrew the lawsuit, the University of Memphis sent a statement that they have declared Wiseman “ineligible for competition and will immediately apply for his reinstatement. Pending that notification, James will be withheld from competition but will continue to practice with the team.”

On November 27, the NCAA announced that they were upholding Wiseman’s suspension, and we wouldn’t be eligible to play until January 12, 2020.