NBA Draft Bio: James Wiseman

James Wiseman, the Freshman Power Forward/Center out of Memphis, has had people in the NBA fawning over him since he was in high school. Let's take a look into how he became a top prospect, his strengths, areas of improvement and an overall projection as an NBA player.

Road to the Draft

James Wiseman, from Nashville, Tennessee, had a decorated high school career, culminating in a flurry of season-ending awards as a Senior: Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year, McDonald’s All-American & Tennessee Mr. Basketball. He was the clear-cut #1 national recruit, and a huge coup for the University of Memphis program. While he committed to attend Memphis and play for Head Coach Penny Hardaway, his year was stalled by a pre-season injury and then a subsequent 12-game suspension by the NCAA7 games into the suspension, Wiseman officially pulled the plug on his season by leaving Memphis to prepare for the NBA Draft.


At 7’1”, 250 lbs. with a 7’5” wingspan, Wiseman fits the bill of a PF/C from a physical standpoint. He’s an exceptional athlete for his size – he is agile and can get up and down the floor with ease. He elevates around the rim not only with explosiveness and power, but also with a soft touch, which should allow him to finish off lobs at the NBA level. He’s an impact player on defense as a rim-protector with his solid footwork, length and quickness, and is one of the top defensive players in the draft

Areas of Improvement

Wiseman only played 3 games at the NCAA level for the Tigers which leaves some questions about his mental toughness, as the decision to leave school was not popular among NBA executives. What kind of player quits on his team half-way through a season? Wiseman recently opened up about the debacle. Apart from his eligibility issue, he still needs to improve his feel for the game, as he often settles for the outside play instead of using his big body to get close to the rim. As with any young, rim-protecting big man he can be foul-prone at times. His shooting efficiency outside the paint is a real question mark, and is something he will need to work on.

Overall Outlook

Had Wiseman played the full year at Memphis, perhaps it would be obvious to all that he is the unanimous #1 overall pick. We may be looking at a 7'1" athletic freak, who can dominate down low with the potential to grow in mid-range face-up game. His ceiling is high – thoughts of a larger Chris Bosh come to mind. He also has shades of a Hassan Whiteside/Rudy Gobert-type player – rim-protectors who can finish at the hoop. No matter any offensive troubles he may encounter in the NBA, he should always be a factor on the defensive end of the floor. If any of those comparisons come to fruition, Wiseman will be worthy of the high draft selection. 

Photo Credit: Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire