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NCAA denies appeal of Memphis center James Wiseman

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This means Tennessee will not face the former No. 1 overall prospect.

PK Invitational - Memphis v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Final word came down on the James Wiseman situation today from the NCAA. The decision to suspend Wiseman until January 12th has been upheld, meaning the star freshman center won’t be able to play against Tennessee on December 14th.

Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA after allegedly accepting over $11,000 dollars from Penny Hardaway to move to Nashville during his high school years. That, of course, came a year before Hardaway become the head coach at Memphis. In this case, the NCAA viewed Hardaway as a booster of the Memphis basketball program before he took the job. By NCAA rule, only institutional staff members are allowed to recruit potential prospects to the school.

Memphis fought back, choosing to take a risk and play Wiseman even after the ruling. Wiseman played the next two games before the Tigers sat him down and hoped for the best, which was the smart move in an attempt to salvage some of his season.

The suspension came down to the tune of 12 games, which Memphis appealed. The NCAA also ruled that Wiseman had to pay back his $11,500 to a charity of his choice.

Today, their appeal was denied and the ruling was upheld.

It will be fascinating to see if anything more comes of this after Hardaway opted to play Wiseman after he was ruled ineligible.

This has a huge impact on the upcoming matchup between Memphis and Tennessee on December 14th. The Tigers will now officially be without their best player — a seven-foot-one elite athlete that is likely set to become a top three pick in June.

Wiseman averaged 19.7 points per game for Memphis in the three games that he played this year, adding over ten rebounds and three blocks per game. He would have been a huge issue for Tennessee, which lacks size in the frontcourt.

Memphis is still ridiculously talented though. Precious Achiuwa (15th), Boogie Ellis (38th), D.J. Jeffries (52nd) and Lester Quinones (58th) all ranked inside of the top 60 in the 2019 class. Quinones could miss the game with a broken hand, however. Sophomores Tyler Harris and Alex Lomas will be ready to pick up the slack if he does.

Tennessee is off to a 5-0 start, already with a big win over a ranked Washington squad that featured two five-star forwards. They’ll be tested this weekend against Florida State and then either VCU or Purdue in the Emerald Coast Classic.

But we’re all really just counting down until December 14th in Knoxville. There’s no doubt Tennessee will have their fists balled and ready for a battle.