MEMPHIS, Tennessee — After former University of Memphis star James Wiseman was selected as the second overall pick in the first round of the 2020 NBA draft, it was another Tiger's turn.
He is the first U of M player to earn the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year award since the Tigers joined the AAC seven years ago, and he is the first Tigers' freshman to be a conference player of the year since Keith Lee in 1982.
Achiuwa, a 6’ 9” forward, was the only freshman in the country who averaged a double-double, with 15.8 points and 10.8 rebounds during the regular season and 16.6 points and 11.2 rebounds in 18 conference games. He also led all freshman nationwide with 18 double-doubles and ranks seventh on the school's single-season double-doubles chart. By grabbing 10.8 rebounds per game, he was the nation's top freshman rebounder.
"He has worked his (tail) off to get to where he is. We're proud of him. To be recognized by our conference is big-time. He has exceeded expectations. What he's doing, as many double-doubles as he has had, to lead the nation in double-doubles...it's pretty amazing," said Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway.
Wiseman and Achiuwa now will be added to this list: Memphis has had 2 players selected in the NBA Draft (all rounds):
2009 Tyreke Evans 1st round, #4; Robert Dozier 2nd round, #60 overall
2008 Derrick Rose 1st round, #1; Joey Dorsey 2nd round #33 overall
2006 Rodney Carney 1st round, #16; Shawne Williams #17
1988 Sylvester Gray 2nd round, #35; Dwight Boyd 3rd round, #66
1986 William Bedford 1st round, #6 overall; Baskerville Holmes 3rd round, #68 overall; Andre Turner 3rd round, #69 overall
1984 Bobby Parks 3rd round, #58 overall; Phillip Haynes, 6th round, #121 overall
1982 Otis Jackson 8th round, #174 overall; Chris Faggi 8th round, #179 overall
1981 Dennis Isbell 5th round, #100 overall; Hank McDowell 5th round, #102 overall
1976 Bill Cook 3rd round, #49 overall; Marion Hillard 4th round, #65 overall
1973 Larry Kenon 3rd round, #50 overall; Ronnie Robinson 4th round, #60 overall; Larry Finch 4th round, #68 overall)
1968 Rich Jones 4th round, #49 overall; Mike Butler 10th round, #121 overall
1964 George Kirk 5th round, #42 overall; Bob Neumann 10th round, #83 overall
1961 Wayne Yates 1st round, #5 overall; Lowery Kirk 4th round, #34 overall
1959 Jim Hickaday 3rd round #17 overall; Orby Arnold 7th round, #52 overall
1957 Win Wilfong 1st round, #4 overall; Jack Butcher 10th round, #75 overall
NEWS RELEASE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS:
MEMPHIS -- Former Memphis Tigers James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa were selected in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday night.
Wiseman was taken by the Golden State Warriors with the No. 2 pick while Achiuwa went to the Miami Heat at No. 20, marking the second time in Memphis history two former Tigers have been selected in the first round of the same NBA draft.
“Both of those guys are well deserving of what they’re getting and where they are going in the draft,” Hardaway said. “They are both humble and ready for their opportunity. I’m very excited as someone who coached both of those kids. To see how hard they’ve worked and for that to be able to pay off is a great feeling.”
Wiseman averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in three games for the Tigers last season. The 7-foot-1 center came to Memphis as a consensus five-star recruit and the No. 1 recruit in the 2019 class, according to ESPN and Rivals. He had 28 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes in his Memphis debut last November against South Carolina State.
Wiseman is the first Memphis player ever selected No. 2 overall. According to the NBA.com draft database, the Tigers have joined North Carolina and Kentucky as the only schools to have players selected Nos. 1-7 in NBA draft history.
His selection at No. 2 also makes Hardaway the only NCAA head coach to have been picked in the top three of the NBA draft and have been the college head coach of a player taken in the top three. Hardaway, who played three seasons at Memphis, was selected third overall in 1993 by the Golden State Warriors and traded to the Orlando Magic.
“(Coach Hardaway) taught me how to approach the game, how to study film every day,” Wiseman said on ESPN’s draft broadcast. “You have a coach that already played in the NBA. Him knowing how the NBA plays helped out my game a lot and impacted my game in a positive way.”
Achiuwa, a 6-foot-9 forward, started all 31 games for the Tigers in 2019-20 and led the team with 15.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. He was named American Athletic Conference Player and Freshman of the Year, becoming the first player in AAC history to earn both honors. He was one of only 16 players in the nation to average a double-double last season and the only freshman among the top 10 conferences in college basketball to do so.
With the Heat, Achiuwa will join a team that advanced to the NBA Finals last season.
Wiseman and Achiuwa are the 14th and 15th Tigers selected in the first round of the NBA draft. It is the first time Memphis has had two players selected in the first round of the same draft since 2006 when Rodney Carney went No. 16 and Shawne Williams No. 17.