This morning, James Wiseman’s mother Donzaleigh Artis did an interview with 92.9 FM in Memphis to discuss her son’s recruitment, including his in-home visit with John Calipari and Joel Justus, and his relationship with Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway, whom she said the family will host tonight.
With the early recruiting period ending tonight, it only makes sense that Penny, Wiseman’s former high school and summer league coach, will drop by to make his pitch. Artis said that although Penny is “family,” that doesn’t necessarily mean James will follow him to Memphis.
“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.”
Interestingly, Artis insisted that her family moved from Nashville to Memphis not so James could play for Hardaway at Memphis East, but instead to support her daughter, who will be a senior at the University of Memphis this fall.
“We didn’t come here for Penny. I have a daughter that goes to University of Memphis. We came here to support her because James can go play basketball anywhere. We didn’t want — it just so happened to be the situation. We lived with the situation. We enjoyed the situation.”
Memphis fans had some fun with the picture Wiseman posted of his visit with Cal and Justus, photoshopping a framed picture of Penny on the table, which Artis laughed about but confirmed was fake.
“Yeah, I saw it,” Artis said through laughter. “I can confirm that is not Penny in the picture. I have a picture of my mother on the table. That was pretty neat. I was like, ‘Wow, okay. Somebody’s got a pretty vivid imagination.'”
How was that visit with Kentucky?
“The in-home visit was really good,” Artis said. “We had fun with Cal and Joel [Justus] coming in to visit. It was really nice.”
Artis said Kentucky’s been interested in her son since the ninth grade, but now that he’s almost a senior, the visits are much more intense.
“They can show him those numbers now on what they can do or how they can bring him up for visits, what he needs to get to move forward.”
Other fun tidbits: Wiseman’s favorite food is chicken and that’s about it. Maybe french fries.
“James is nothing but chicken and water. He loves him some chicken and water.”
We knew this already, but he studied Mandarin at Ensworth in Nashville before transferring to Memphis East and “is a scholar first.”
“He really likes school,” Artis said.
Artis reiterated that she wants her son to stay in the 2019 class so he can enjoy being a kid, a sentiment that is especially poignant when you learn he had an older brother who drowned when he was only five years old.
“The one thing I’ve learned about life is life’s not promised,” Artis said. “I want James to be able to say, one thing I was able to do in life was be a kid. I got to laugh. I got to be silly, jump around, play. I want him to experience that because once he decides to go to college and the NBA, no more playing. We’re in a grown man’s world now. I want him to enjoy life.”
Can’t argue with that.