Memphis Tigers fans are excited after the “Big Ticket’s” big decision Tuesday. Students huddled around TVs and exploded in celebration when James Wiseman announced he will stay at home and suit up for the Tigers next year.
“It’s ecstatic in here, the University of Memphis. It’s out of control right now,” said student Michael Fava.
Top-ranked high school basketball recruit James Wiseman is joining the Tigers and putting a national spotlight on our local university.
“Having the number one player is just something else,” said student Jake Barrow.
“Probably one of the best days in Tiger basketball history. It IS the best day in Tiger basketball history,” said student Bryant Dacus.
Wiseman’s live announcement on ESPN is the latest sign of a program rapidly on the rise since Tiger legend Penny Hardaway took over as head coach in March.
“Really exciting for the city of Memphis, especially the University, so I’m really excited to be a part of it,” said student Jackson Dorsey.
Now with Wiseman committed and other top recruits potentially still in the mix, U of M students are dreaming big.
“I could see the ship in a couple of years. I can see us going all the way,” said Fava.
“Lots more top 10, top 25 recruits coming to the university, which means national championship is probably on its way,” said student Parker Evans.
Other U of M students told Local 24 News they got the James Wiseman news during class on their phones.
A few miles east on Poplar Avenue, longtime U of M supporter Bob Byrd beamed with pride.
“It is another wave of a great community revival,” said Byrd.
Byrd said the commitment of the nation’s top ranked basketball recruit proves the program’s momentum and early recruiting success of Penny Hardaway isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
“When we cheer for Penny, we are essentially cheering for ourselves. We are cheering for a great city that is on the move. We are cheering especially for a great university where great things are happening,” said Byrd.
With millions tuning in to see a huge Memphis recruiting victory live, Byrd said the basketball program’s revival also benefits the university and city of Memphis as a whole.
“We have only begun to scratch the surface of what is possible here,” said Byrd.
Even though James Wiseman won’t arrive on campus until next fall, Penny Hardaway mania is already playing out at FedExForum.
Last year’s team under Tubby Smith averaged a little more than 6,000 fans. Saturday night’s game against Vale drew nearly 15,000 fans.