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Marshall County Hoop Fest Will Get To See James Wiseman And Talented Memphis East Teammates

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James Wiseman was one of the best players at the recent USA Basketball training camp. (USA Basketball Photo) James Wiseman was one of the best players at the recent USA Basketball training camp. (USA Basketball Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

One of the best matchups at the upcoming Marshall County Hoop Fest will pair two of the nation’s top juniors against each other.

Aspire Academy of Louisville featuring Charles Bassey will play Memphis East and star James Wiseman Dec. 3rd at 1:30 p.m. CST in Benton.

Wiseman, a 6-11 power forward, is one of seven juniors with a Kentucky scholarship offer. He also has numerous other offers including Kansas, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Arizona, Louisville and Indiana. He has a 7-4 wingspan and was one of the best players at the USA Basketball Junior National Team Mini-Camp that had mainly seniors attending.

The 6-10 Bassey does not have a Kentucky scholarship offer but is a consensus top five player in the 2019 recruiting class. He has scholarship offers from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Baylor, Western Kentucky, Tennessee, Washington, UCLA, Creighton and others.

“We are really not that familiar with Aspire Academy yet but we know plenty about Charles Bassey. He’s the real deal,” Memphis East staff member Chan Douglas said. “James likes a matchup like the one with Bassey. I am not saying they will be matched up against each other, but we know that is what the media is going to make out of it.

“But James will love this. He is a fairly reserved young man, but he loves to step up in the big moments. He has a motor 24/7. This will just be another opportunity for him to showcase his skills. He is looking forward to moments like this.”

Wiseman transferred from Nashville Ensworth to Memphis East this season to play for legendary NBA guard Penny Hardaway. He also already had a sister attending the University of Memphis.

He’s had no trouble adjusting to his new school.

“He is very humble and respectful. Academically, he’s very sound,” Douglas said. “He takes his academics very seriously to the point that even when he doesn’t need a tutor he still wants one to let himself do any better.”

Want to know what a serious student he is? One class he is taking is Chinese.

“He likes to challenge himself,” Douglas laughed and said. “His grades are great. He only had one B at mid-term and everything else was an A.”

Douglas said Wiseman is “big on family” and laughed when talking about a recent time he called Wiseman. He was playing Trouble, a children’s board game, with his sister and mother.

“I said, ‘Somebody take a picture and let me see that,’” Douglas said. “He’s just a kid. He’s only 16. But he loves his family.”

Wiseman has fit in well with Memphis East teammates. Many of them are used to high level competition from playing on Hardaway’s AAU team. Chandler Lawson, a 6-7 junior, has offers from Florida and Georgia Tech already. Alex Lomax, a senior point guard, has offers from LSU, Memphis, Mass, Florida, California, Ole Miss and Temple. Johnathan Lawson, a 6-5 freshman, is one of the top players in the 2021 recruiting class. Malcolm Danridge, a 6-8 junior center, has offers from Florida and Georgia Tech.

“All those guys were familiar with James,” Douglas said. “Coach Hardaway calls everything a family environment here. They are all good in their own right. They just look at each others as brothers. They hang out, go to high school football games together. They all even get haircuts together.”

Marshall County Hoop Fest fans will get a chance to see why Wiseman is the No. 1 player in the 2019 recruiting class and a big target for Kentucky.

“He has it all and does it all. He plays hard all the time,” Douglas said. “Coaches that come to see him play, the one thing they say is how hard he plays. He does not do that just because coaches are there. He does it when they are not there. He is going hard all the time. Everybody says that is why he is No. 1 (in his recruiting class).”

Hoop Fest fans will want a chance to see and talk to Wiseman. Douglas says Hardaway always draws a crowd, too. Douglas says he’s sure Wiseman, Hardaway and other players will be available to fans.

“Fans take to our kids and they like that,” Douglas said. “If it is the right time, they will love spending time with the fans and I am sure we will make that work out. Our kids, including James, all enjoy having a chance to do something like that.”

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