James Wiseman, expected to be a top pick in the N.B.A. draft next June, dropped a lawsuit against the N.C.A.A. on Thursday and will be ineligible to play for the University of Memphis while the N.C.A.A. reviews the school’s appeal of his eligibility.
Wiseman received a temporary injunction last Friday, and Memphis allowed him to play in two games after the N.C.A.A. informed the school that Wiseman was probably ineligible because Memphis Coach Penny Hardaway, in 2017 when he was a high school coach, had provided Wiseman’s family $11,500 in moving expenses so they could relocate from Nashville to play for Hardaway at Memphis East High School. Hardaway became the Memphis coach in 2018, and the university said Wiseman himself did not know about the payment when it was provided.
Memphis supported Wiseman’s challenge in a statement it issued Friday, but schools that willingly play a player who might be ineligible can open themselves up to more severe N.C.A.A. penalties.
In a statement released Thursday, Wiseman’s lawyers said they were withdrawing the suit — which was scheduled to be heard in court on Monday in Memphis — because it had become an impediment to “a fair and equitable resolution with the N.C.A.A.” over Wiseman’s eligibility.
The lawsuit’s withdrawal came one day after Jim Kyle, the same Tennessee judge who granted Wiseman a temporary restraining order, ruled that the state’s high school sports association did not violate the property rights of Wiseman and another player, Ryan Boyce, when they were ruled ineligible at East High. That ruling keeps open the possibility that the high school will be stripped of the 2017-18 state championship it won with Hardaway as coach. Boyce, a redshirt freshman guard, is a reserve at Memphis.
Wiseman, a 7-foot-1, 240-pound center, has averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3 blocks in the three games he has played for Memphis, which was ranked 13th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll before its 82-74 loss to Oregon on Tuesday. In its latest mock draft, NBA.com has Wiseman listed as the likely second pick.