Former University of Memphis star James Wiseman is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick at this year's NBA draft, but his road to get there hasn't been easy. After just a single game with the Memphis Tigers, Wiseman was suspended because he accepted $11,500 from Memphis coach Penny Hardaway to help him move. He went on to play two more games, but he dropped out of the university by December. In his first interview since leaving, he called his eligibility battle "dehumanizing," and revealed that he cried every night.
"I was really in the middle of a hurricane," he said in a recent interview with ESPN. "That's like the worst place you could possibly be. Just having the mental agony and the suffering, crying every night because I just wanted to get on the court so much." He went on to explain that the team was very important to him, but due to what he was being put through, he decided to leave in order to focus on the draft in June, despite still being eligible to play in the NCAA.
"I wanted to have a great collegiate career," he continued. "I wanted to win a national championship. But throughout the course of the first two games, everything started to go down in terms of my mental [well-being]. I was getting depressed. It was dehumanizing for me. I felt it was unfair because they notified and alerted me at the last minute. Coach Penny told me about it. I was really down and shocked. When I got suspended for 12 games and had to pay back the money, that was kind of surreal. I didn't really have any knowledge of [the violation] or all the ramifications behind it."
He said the main reason he ultimately left was out of fear of getting injured prior to the draft, and his inability to pay back the $11,500. "It was a bit surreal because I couldn't use a GoFundMe page that [ESPN's] Jay Williams put out for me, obviously," Wiseman said. "I couldn't use any outside sources. I had to get [the money] on my own, and that was pretty impossible because I didn't have the money. I was just a regular college student."
As for whether he believes he'll be the no. 1 overall pick, Wiseman is confident he will be. "I truly expect that," he said. "I trust in myself, in terms of my game and my skill level. I've just got to keep working, keep grinding every day."