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Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: More Memphis buzz for James Wiseman

Can UK hold off Memphis and Penny to land the No. 1 recruit in 2019?

Jon Lopez, Nike

While UK looked like the heavy favorite for James Wiseman early on, it’s becoming clear that Memphis is a real threat for him.

That’s thanks in large part to Penny Hardaway becoming the Tigers’ head coach. If you recall, Wiseman transferred from Ensworth High School in Tennessee to play for Hardaway at Memphis East in 2017, where they would capture a state title.

Following the championship, Hardway was named head coach of the Memphis Tigers, and now, they’ve become a legitimate challenger for Wiseman.

UK head coach John Calipari met with Wiseman on Monday, which by all accounts went very well.

However, Hardaway will follow that up with an in-home visit of his own with Wiseman on Wednesday. Not long after the visit was reported, 247 Sports recruiting director Jerry Meyer logged a Crystal Ball prediction in favor of Memphis for Wiseman. He had originally picked UK.

It’s actually the eighth-straight Memphis prediction, and it’s tied them with UK for picks to get Wiseman.

For what it’s worth, Wiseman’s mother, Donzaleigh Artis, talked with ESPN Memphis on Wednesday, and she made it clear that Hardaway at Memphis doesn’t mean they’ll get her son.

“He’s family to us. That doesn’t make my decision as to where James goes to college. Penny has to do what he has to do to get James. Even though I love Penny, I don’t play basketball.”

Artis also talked briefly about Monday’s meeting with Calipari and assistant coach Joel Justus.

“The in-home visit was really good. We had fun with Cal and Joel Justus coming in to visit. It was really nice.”

Artis also admitted that they didn’t move Wiseman to Memphis East for Hardaway. Instead, they moved to be closer to Wiseman’s sister, who will be a senior at Memphis next season.

That would seem to be good news for UK, but it’s still clear that Memphis is a major threat to land Wiseman. Assuming Wiseman stays at Memphis East for his senior season, it’s going to get very hard for UK to pull him from Hardaway’s grasp.

But if anyone can do it, it’s Calipari.