Basketball Recruiting - James Wiseman named Gatorade National Basketball Player of the Year
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James Wiseman named Gatorade National Basketball Player of the Year

Memphis, Tenn. - It was just another regular school day for five-star James Wiseman until he walked outside at the end of the day and saw NBA rookie Jaren Jackson standing there - along with Wiseman's high school teammates and classmates - to present the prestigious Gatorade National Basketball Player of the Year Award. Gatorade breaks down the awards by state and then chooses one player to represent boys basketball at the National Player of the Year award ceremony in Los Angeles in July. Past winners include R.J. Barrett, Brad Beal, Kevin Love, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

"This is just such an honor and honestly, completely unexpected," Wiseman said. "It's just a symbol for all my hard work and dedication. I'm just really blessed to be recognized like this, especially knowing how great some of the past winners have been and the company I'm in now."

Jackson, a rookie with the Memphis Grizzlies, surprised the five-star center with the award, and he said he can't wait see Wiseman at the next level and beyond.

"I've been watching James for a long time. I know him from our AAU games and it's crazy how his game has progressed," Jackson said. "He's the definition of versatility, and a guard's dream when it comes to playing with a big. He can bang down low and get rebounds, but also pop out to the wing for the three-ball. I can't wait to see him at the next level and battle with him one day in the NBA, and I was really happy I could be here and present him with the Gatorade National Player of the Year Award."

Wiseman led his high school team (Memphis East) to a 21-8 overall record and is headed to Memphis next year. It was a dead-even recruiting battle between Kentucky and the Tigers, but coach Penny Hardaway is building a talented roster, and Wiseman wants to be a part of it.

"With coach Penny, I just trust him," Wiseman told "I've known him since he was my AAU coach and I'm just excited to be a part of something special next year. We want to make the tournament. We want to make some noise in the AAC and we're gathering all the parts to do that in next year's class."

One game that is sure to be circled on the calendar is the Kentucky game, and Wiseman said both he and D.J. Jeffries are looking forward to that matchup.

"That game is going to be fun. It's going to be high energy, a great battle with good players and both D.J. and I can't wait," Wiseman said. "We're definitely looking forward to that game for sure."

Memphis already has an impressive class coming in, with Wiseman, Jeffries, Malcolm Dandridge and Damion Baugh but they might not be done yet.

"I'm still recruiting. I'm going hard after Lester Quinones, Precious Achiuwa and Trendon Watford. We're on our way to making Memphis a name in college basketball again," Wiseman said.

Make no mistake, the pieces are all there for one of the best teams the Tigers have had in recent memory, and it will be interesting to see what Hardaway and Mike Miller accomplish at Memphis next year.