Memphis star freshman James Wiseman suspended 12 games, cleared to play in January

James Wiseman will be eligible to return to the court on Jan. 12 against South Florida. (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

The NCAA announced on Wednesday that Memphis freshman James Wiseman has been suspended 12 games and will be eligible to play on Jan. 12.

Wiseman, a 7-foot center, is the potential No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA draft.

NCAA: Wiseman must donate $11.5K to charity

He must also donate $11,500 to a charity of his choice, an amount that matches the payment the NCAA says his mother received from Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway when Wiseman was in high school and relocated to play for Hardaway’s prep team, Team Penny and Memphis’ East High School, which Hardaway also coached.

The alleged payment occurred prior to Hardaway becoming the head coach at Memphis. The NCAA ruled the payment as impermissible because it deems Hardaway a booster.

From the NCAA statement:

The benefit was impermissible because of Hardaway’s status as a Memphis booster. Hardaway had made donations to the school in the past, including $1 million to help build the Penny Hardaway Athletic Hall of Fame at the school. Boosters cannot provide financial assistance to prospective student-athletes, their family members or friends unless that assistance is generally available to other members of the student body and is not given based on athletics ability.

Wiseman sued, then dropped suit vs. NCAA

The NCAA initially ruled Wiseman ineligible after Memphis’ opening game. Wiseman filed a lawsuit against the NCAA, and a judge issued a temporary restraining order shortly after the initial ruling allowing for Wiseman to continue playing until the resolution of his case.

Wiseman played three more games before dropping his lawsuit as the school deemed him ineligible last week and announced that it was applying for his reinstatement. The NCAA cited the three games he played after being ruled ineligible in Wednesday’s suspension announcement.

From the Nov. 14 Memphis statement:

University of Memphis student-athlete James Wiseman has decided to withdraw his lawsuit against the NCAA and the University. The University supports the decision, as it believes it is in James' and the men's basketball team's best interests to resolve his eligibility issue expeditiously through the NCAA process.

Wiseman is the centerpiece of the top-ranked recruiting class Hardaway secured for his second season as the head coach at Memphis.

He will be eligible to play against South Florida on Jan. 12.

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