Top-Rated C Prospect James Wiseman Commits to Memphis over Kentucky, FSU, More

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Top-Rated C Prospect James Wiseman Commits to Memphis over Kentucky, FSU, More
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18:  James Wiseman #23 of Team Ramsey warms up before the game against Team Stanley during the SLAM Summer Classic 2018 at Dyckman Park on August 18, 2018 in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Elsa/Getty Images

Highly touted center James Wiseman announced Tuesday he has committed to the University of Memphis.

“After long thought and consideration, I’ll be attending the University of Memphis,” Wiseman said, per Evan Daniels of 247Sports.

His decision came after official visits to Kentucky, Florida State, Kansas and Vanderbilt, in addition to Memphis, according to Daniels.

Wiseman is the No. 1 center and the second-ranked player in the 2019 recruiting class, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. He was the top recruit in his class until 5-star guard Anthony Edwards reclassified Tuesday. With that, Edwards took over the top spot in the class of 2019, bumping Wiseman down one notch.

The Memphis native admitted in an interview with Rivals.com’s Eric Bossi that he remains a work in progress:

“[Lack of strength] is my only weakness, I think. I still have a lot to work on with my offensive skills but that was my major weakness, improving my upper-body strength. I’m really working on being more patient with the ball and not rushing things. Just being patient before I make a move. My jump shot has improved, I’ve been working on it a lot.”

Since Wiseman weighs only 210 pounds, bigger, stronger frontcourt players could push around the 7-footer in college. That’s a simple issue to address, though, especially since the player has acknowledged it.

Regarding playing style, Wiseman fits the mold of a modern-day center or power forward—whichever position he plays.

The 17-year-old made 16 appearances for Bluff City Legends in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League in 2018. In those games, he averaged 15.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. He did, however, hit just two of his 20 three-point attempts.

The tools are there for Wiseman to become a more consistent threat from both the mid-range and the perimeter.

Curtis Burch of NewsRadio 630 WLAP in Lexington, Kentucky, shared a clip of Wiseman’s shooting stroke:

Long-range shooting is the only significant question mark about Wiseman’s offensive game. He can finish around the basket, and the Lexington Herald-Leader‘s Ben Roberts showed he can run the floor with ease:

Defensively, Wiseman can protect the rim, and he’ll be even more imposing when he fills out his frame. Opposing teams can’t render him ineffective by pulling him away from the basket either. His athleticism will make it a little more difficult to exploit him with mismatches.

It’s easy to see why Wiseman was considered the best player in the class. Traditional centers are falling by the wayside with the emphasis on floor spacing, but size can remain an advantage. Defending a player with Wiseman’s height can be difficult when he can not only score inside but also move off the ball and knock down jumpers.

When it hired Penny Hardaway as head coach in March, Memphis was banking on his reputation in the region and on-court accolades as a player to help the Tigers once again become a force on the recruiting trail. The fact that Hardaway got a commitment from Wiseman indicates the gamble may work.

While Wiseman alone doesn’t make Memphis a championship contender, his arrival means the Tigers may be on a rise to national prominence once again.

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