Less than an hour after news broke that the NCAA had ruled Memphis freshman James Wiseman ineligible, a Shelby County judge granted the potential top pick in the 2020 NBA draft an emergency temporary restraining order, allowing Wiseman to play Friday night against Illinois-Chicago.

Wiseman’s attorney, Leslie Ballin, said Friday that Memphis Coach Penny Hardaway helped pay for Wiseman and his family to move to Memphis in 2017 during his junior year of high school. Hardaway “provided $11,500 in moving expenses … unbeknownst to James,” according to a statement from the University of Memphis. Ballin said that action caused the NCAA to deem Hardaway a booster.

Blake Ballin, another Wiseman attorney, said the NCAA sent a letter before Wiseman’s collegiate debut Tuesday deeming him ineligible, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The 7-foot-1 Wiseman would play in that game anyway, a 97-64 win over South Carolina State, and had 28 points and 11 rebounds for the No. 14 Tigers.

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The NCAA responded to the ruling and Wiseman’s playing status Friday night, saying in a statement that the university “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.”

In Friday night’s game, a 92-46 Memphis win, Wiseman started and played 25 minutes, making all four of his field goal attempts and going 9 of 14 from the free throw line. He finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and five blocks.

Wiseman played that junior season at East High School, where Haradway was an assistant coach, and on Hardaway’s AAU team during the summer of 2018. Hardaway landed the Memphis head coaching job before last season. Hardaway played for Memphis from 1991 to 1993 before being selected third overall in the 1993 NBA draft.

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Shortly after Hardaway became the Tigers’ head coach, he secured Wiseman as his prized recruit for the program’s 2019 class. Wiseman was widely regarded the top recruit in the country.

His recruitment gave the Tigers the top recruiting class of 2019, according to 247Sports and Scout, this despite the fact that Memphis hadn’t been ranked since 2014.

“The University is currently working with the NCAA staff to restore his playing status, and we are hopeful for a speedy resolution to the matter,” the school’s statement said.

“The University of Memphis has high standards of ethical conduct for all faculty, staff and students, and we take seriously any allegations or conduct that is not aligned with our mission,” the statement continued. “We will acknowledge and accept responsibility for proven violations of NCAA bylaws. The University of Memphis firmly supports James, Coach Hardaway and our men’s basketball program in this matter.”

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Wiseman is widely projected to be a top-five pick in the 2020 draft, with several outlets regarding him as the top overall selection.

“We will continue to be cooperative, respectful and professional in our dealings with the NCAA, while availing ourselves of every resource in the best interests of our student-athletes, our coach, and our University,” Memphis Athletic Director Laird Veatch said in the university-issued statement. “It is clear to me in my short time here that Memphians will stand up and fight, both for each other and for what is right, and I am proud to stand with them.”

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