OXFORD • There will be a coming and going of two key players, not just one, when Ole Miss meets 16th-ranked Memphis at the FedEx Forum on Saturday at noon.
The NCAA’s 12-game suspension for 7-foot-1 Memphis freshman James Wiseman – a projected No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft – has been a national story.
The suspension comes after Memphis coach Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was found to have given $11,500 to help Wiseman’s family move from Nashville to Memphis while Wiseman was in high school.
Wiseman will not play against the Rebels (4-0) unless there is a sudden reversal of the NCAA’s decision. Memphis has appealed.
“I feel bad for him honestly. Sad that it happened like it did. I wish I was playing against him. A guy like that you probably only get to play against once in a lifetime,” Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree said.
2 down, 10 to go
Wiseman has already sat out two of the 12 games. In the three games he has played he’s averaging 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots.
Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis says Memphis (4-1) is an NCAA Tournament-level team with or without Wiseman. Lance Thomas and Isaiah Maurice are formidable in the post, he said.
“They’ve still got great length. Thomas and Maurice … they’re long and athletic. They’ve still got other rim protectors,” Davis said.
While Memphis misses Wiseman the Rebels will have sophomore power forward Blake Hinson for the first time this season.
Hinson has missed the first four games while recovering from what Davis has described as a “blood abnormality.”
Hinson started 31 games last year – the third-most by an Ole Miss freshman in 20 years – and averaged 8.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists.
How much Hinson will play against Memphis is still to be determined.
Davis says Hinson’s return makes the Rebels more versatile by allowing sophomore KJ Buffen to play as a bigger version of a small forward or help out at center.
The Rebels are coming off a 65-52 win over Seattle in which Davis was critical of his players, mostly reserves, for guarding hard much of the way but being outscored 15-2 over the last 5 minutes, 9 seconds.
Davis softened his assessment somewhat after reviewing game video.
“Some of the parts weren’t as bad offensively. We missed some good shots. We got some open shots. The ball did move a little bit better than what I thought. And we did guard for a long period of time.”