2020 NBA Draft Profile: James Wiseman
7’1 | C | 19.0 | Memphis | FR
James Wiseman is one of the most physically gifted center prospects in recent history but only appeared in 3 games for the Memphis Tigers as he was embattled with eligibility issues in his brief stint at the college level. Emerging as one the top prospects in the high school class of 2019 early in his prep career, the Tennessee native averaged 11.4 points and 5 rebounds per game at the 2017 FIBA U16 Americas Championship alongside the likes of RJ Hampton and Vernon Carey. He finished his senior year at East High School (TN) as one of the most decorated recruits this decade having earned a spot in the McDonald’s All-American, Jordan Brand Classic, and Nike Hoop Summit while capturing both Gatorade National Player of the Year and Morgan Wooten National Player of the Year honors. The centerpiece of the top-ranked 7-player recruiting class signed by Memphis Head Coach Penny Hardaway, Wiseman was named an AP preseason All-American team and averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds before his season came to a premature end.
- Possessing an impressive combination of size and mobility, Wiseman runs the floor exceptionally well for a player listed at 7’1 and 247-pounds. With a 9’6 standing reach, his dimensions are a factor around the rim on both end of the floor.
- Seeing only 69.5 minutes of action for the Tigers last season, Wiseman did the majority of his scoring inside providing a big target off the ball, creating some touches for himself crashing the glass, and drawing free throws at a remarkable rate. Tossing in several shots away from the rim and making teams pay for sending him to the line while posting massive per-minute scoring and rebounding numbers, the 19-year old big man provided a small glimpse of his tantalizing offensive potential in limited action.
- Missing out on the opportunity to anchor a Memphis defense that was arguably the best in the country, Wiseman nonetheless showed some encouraging signs on the defensive end in his brief stint at the college level. His length gives him intriguing potential a rim protector, but like most young big men, he is still learning how to maximize his tools—particularly away from the rim.
- With 18 of his 26 shot attempts coming on dunks or layups, Wiseman’s stay at Memphis provided limited insight into the nuances of his game, but reinforced what kind of impact he can make with his unique combination of tools and energy.
- Amassing over half of his possessions running the floor in transition or crashing the offensive glass, Wiseman’s ability to catch lobs and stay active helped him earn a fair amount of easy baskets and made him a magnet for contact. He scored a remarkable 1.77 points per finishing opportunity in the half court [100th percentile] and averaged 5 points per game in transition—a massive number for a college guard let alone a center. Among the most imposing physical specimens in college basketball, he drew fouls on a third of his possessions despite seldom having the ball in his hands.
- On the few occasions Wiseman did get to operate with the ball, he flashed intriguing touch and coordination tossing in a couple of jump shots in the mid-post area displaying the same mechanics that make him a consistent free throw shooter and give him the potential to space the floor in the future. He also second-guessed himself on a couple of his touches from 15-feet as he is still figuring out what his identity is as a scorer.
- Put in few decision-making situations, Wiseman recorded 1 assist over three starts this season, but also committed just 3 turnovers. He showed some ability to handle the ball in space at the high school level, but served almost exclusively as a finisher for the Tigers.
- Ranked 1st in the NCAA and 1st in the American in scoring efficiency among players using over 10 possessions per game (1.405 ppp)
- Ranked 1st in the NCAA and 1st in the American in Put Back scoring (6.3 ppg)
- Ranked 1st in the American in Transition scoring (5.0 ppg)
- Ranked 3rd in the American in Cut scoring (3 ppg)
- Providing some rim protection from the center spot for one of the quickest teams top-to-bottom in the country, Wiseman had some positive moments using his length around the rim. He elevates well for blocks with room to gather and his sheer reach is frequently a factor on the defensive glass.
- Stronger than he is especially quick, he is still learning how to give himself a cushion and get to spots early when sliding out to guard on the perimeter but showed some growth and intensity in that regard in limited action.