By LARRY VAUGHT
There’s not any one thing that former NBA star Penny Hardaway thinks 6-9 James Wiseman does best for Memphis East. But that’s because he can do so many things well that it is hard to pick which one he does the best.
Wiseman is a major Kentucky recruiting target in the 2019 class.
“James is an outside-player. Highly skilled. He runs the floor very well and is a really good player,” Hardaway said. “He does a lot of things really well. The one thing he does do is run the floor very well and he is a really good midrange shooter. He seals down on the post. It’s hard to pick one thing because he does so many things well.”
Aspire Academy junior Charles Bassey played against Wiseman in the Marshall County Hoopfest Sunday and had played against him several times before including the Underclassmen All-America Game last spring. Wiseman is the No. 1 player in the 2019 recruiting class, Bassey a top five player. Wiseman had 21 points on 9-for-17 shooting along with 10 rebounds and two blocked shots in an 82-66 win over Aspire.
“Wiseman can shoot the ball. He pops out and shoots. He posts good. He is a really good player,” Bassey said. “You have to go hard against him every minute.”
Hardaway says that trait is one thing Calipari — and a lot of other coaches who have offered scholarships — like about Wiseman.
“He is a kid that plays with a chip on his shoulder. He knows what he wants in life to make it to the next level and he is not going to go out there and do anything halfway. Everything he does, he goes 100 percent,” Hardaway said.
Paul Washington, the father of UK freshman P.J. Washington, was also at Marshall County Hoopfest with his team, Findlay Prep. He’s watched Wiseman for three years and says he has “definitely” got better this year.
“He is tall, athletic. He needs to work on his physicality and Penny is doing a good job with that already. He is going to be special,” Washington said. “I just like his presence. He can block shots around the rim. That is what I like most about him. He just knows how to play the game.”
Olive Branch (Miss.) junior D.J. Jeffries, a top 15 player in the 2019 recruiting class and another UK target, also played at Marshall County Hoopfest where he scored 35 points in a win over Adair County. He called Wiseman a “great player” with few limitations.
“He has nice little jump shot and a great feel for the game. He’s a nice all-around player. Playing with James, he gets me better and I get him better,” Jeffries said.
Could they play together in college since they are similar players?
“Of course. I talk to him sometimes about that. You never know,” Jeffries said.