Penny Hardaway, James Wiseman and the Memphis Tigers — a timeline

An impromptu news conference by a Memphis lawyer on Friday evening delivered shockwaves through college basketball: Former No. 1 recruit and potential No. 1 NBA draft pick James Wiseman had been declared ineligible by the NCAA. The decision centered on moving and relocation costs given to Wiseman’s family by Penny Hardaway, Wiseman’s former high school and AAU coach and current college coach at Memphis, in 2017. A Shelby County judge ruled a short time later that Wiseman could play, pending a hearing later this month.

How did we get here? It goes back more than 11 years.

Aug. 21, 2008: Hardaway donates $1 million to the University of Memphis, which uses the money to build the Penny Hardaway Hall of Fame on the Tigers’ campus.

Spring/summer 2016: After his freshman season at The Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee, Wiseman plays for the St. Louis Eagles grassroots team on the Nike circuit. He’s considered one of the top rising sophomores in high school basketball, with the likes of Alabama, Vanderbilt and Florida extending scholarship offers during the summer.

Spring/summer 2017: After playing his sophomore season at Ensworth, Wiseman joins the Team Penny grassroots team on the Nike circuit. Team Penny was founded by Hardaway, and he was a mainstay on the bench and sideline of the team’s EYBL games.

August 2017: Wiseman transfers from Ensworth to East High School in Memphis, Tennessee, for his junior year, with his family relocating from Nashville. The East High School basketball team is coached by Hardaway.

Nov. 16, 2017: Wiseman and East teammate Ryan Boyce are ruled ineligible by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association due to an “athletic coaching link” with Hardaway. Both Wiseman and Boyce played for Team Penny. The Shelby County Board of Education files a lawsuit five days later seeking to overturn the ruling.

Dec. 13, 2017: A Shelby County chancellor rules in favor of Wiseman and Boyce, saying they can play, pending another hearing.

March 14, 2018: Memphis fires Tubby Smith after two seasons. Smith’s ouster comes after weeks of speculation that Memphis planned to fire Smith and hire Hardaway. Hardaway is the clear front-runner to replace Smith.

March 17, 2018: Wiseman leads East High School to the school’s third straight state championship.

March 20, 2018: Hardaway is introduced as Memphis’ head coach and is immediately tasked with two things: bringing excitement back to the Tigers’ program and getting Memphis involved with high-level recruits again. The buzz in the city waned under Smith, but Hardaway — who grew up in Memphis, played for the Tigers and returned to coach both high school and AAU ball in the city after playing in the NBA — immediately brings optimism to the fan base.

April 7, 2018: Memphis offers Wiseman. Smith went to see Wiseman a couple of times while he was the head coach, and Wiseman visited campus once, but the Tigers weren’t a serious threat to sign him. Kentucky was the heavy favorite until this point.

April 18, 2018: Hardaway conducts an in-home visit with Wiseman, making it clear that Wiseman is the Tigers’ top target in the 2019 class.

July 15, 2018: After a spring and summer playing for the Bluff City Legends (the rebranded name of the Team Penny program), Wiseman says on ESPNU that “Memphis and Kentucky are definitely my top two schools right now.”

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