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Memphis star freshman basketball player James Wiseman ruled ineligible by NCAA, but plays Friday

James Wiseman, the top prospect in Memphis basketball’s ballyhooed No. 1 recruiting class, was ruled ineligible by the NCAA earlier this week, his Memphis-based attorney, Leslie Ballin announced Friday evening. 

However, in a saga that played out in real time just before the Tigers’ Friday night game against Illinois-Chicago, Ballin said Wiseman was granted an injunction by a Shelby County Judicial Court judge that put the NCAA’s ineligibility decision on hold pending further litigation.

Wiseman then arrived at FedExForum at 5:17 p.m., less than 45 minutes before Memphis was scheduled to tip off its second game of the 2019-20 season, and was announced in the starting lineup. Wiseman scored 17 points in Memphis’ 92-46 win over UIC.

The NCAA responded to the court’s injunction, issuing the following statement: “The University of Memphis was notified that James Wiseman is likely ineligible. The university chose to play him and ultimately is responsible for ensuring its student-athletes are eligible to play.”

According to Blake Ballin, another member of Wiseman’s legal team, the NCAA sent a letter deeming Wiseman ineligible just before he took the court for the Tigers’ season-opening win over South Carolina State on Tuesday night. 

At issue, Blake Ballin said, is coach Penny Hardaway’s status as a university booster and thousands of dollars the NCAA alleges Hardaway gave to Wiseman’s mother, Donzaleigh Artis, for moving expenses when Wiseman relocated from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017.

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