It’s been a whirlwind of a year for James Wiseman. The No. 1 recruit in the country — who will stay home to play his college ball for Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers — has lived up to that title, playing in a whole lot of high school All-American games and stocking his trophy shelf with a collection of honors that can only be won by a talent as special as the big man. The most recent honor came from Gatorade, which named Wiseman the National Player of the Year.
Amid all the craziness, Wiseman took some time to chat with Dime about his desire be a philanthropist, his game, what he’s learned from Penny Hardaway, being named the Gatorade Player of the Year, and season three of Stranger Things.
I read in an interview with The Undefeated that you want to be a philanthropist some day. So I want to know, where did the interest in that come from?
This is because I have a vision. I mean, I want to give back to the unfortunate. Especially the people in the next generation, really just try to put a smile on their face and just teach them that they can dream big, that they don’t need to ever lower their standards in terms of their dreams and give the next generation more resources to be able to obtain or venture out and just be able to explore. I have learned some of that from Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. They have inspired me a lot to do that type of stuff. So that is why I wanted to that. I was really interested.
Are there any people outside of LeBron and Kobe who really inspire you like that?
I’d say Warren Buffet as well, and I’d say Bill Gates. All sorts of people like that. They inspire me, in terms of coming from a business perspective.
When James Wiseman looks into his future, one year, five year, ten years, twenty years from now, what does he see both on and off the basketball court?
On the basketball court, just trying to be the best version of me. Just trying to develop my game and get better. But outside the basketball court, just trying to be the best person that I can be in this world and just trying to impact the community or the world in a positive manner.
Let’s talk ball for a bit. I think there is no better person to get a scouting report on James Wiseman from than the man himself. Can you just take me through your game a little bit?
Really, I’m a very versatile player, I can shoot, I can dribble, I can run the floor really well but for my size. I’m a leader as well. I also give my teammates a lot of encouragement and a lot of advice if they ever need it. So just really, be an all around person and all around basketball player as well.
It sounds like on and off the court you take a lot of pride in being a leader. Can I ask where that comes from?
It comes from my parents. My parents instilled in me pride and dignity and really just being a leader every day. So I really, got that from my mom, a lot.
I imagine it also helps that for the past few years in your life and for this next year, you’ve been around someone like Penny Hardaway. What is the best piece of advice that he has given you, either in life or in basketball, that you try to remember every day?
He is just telling me to never give up and always dominate every situation in life and on the basketball court, and also, just be the best version of you. Once you step on a court just give it your all.
This honor with Gatorade, so many incredible players have gotten it. There is Kobe Bryant, there is LeBron James, there is Karl-Anthony Towns, Ben Simmons, and now James Wiseman as the next name in that line. How does it feel to kind of join those ranks?
It feels great, I mean, it is a historical category to be in. So for me just to be able to be in that situation is truly a blessing.
You really stacked up honors like this over the course of your basketball career, so how do you react when you get them? Is there this sense of accomplishment about it or does it motivate you to grind harder so you can stay at the top?
It validates my hard work and my dedication and the talents that I put into the gym. But also, just being a leader off the court as well, just helping out my community. So really just be an all around person. That is all.
I saw on Twitter that you are really, really hyped for season 3 of Stranger Things. Have you watched it yet or have you not gotten a chance with all that is going on?
I finished it last week. I binged watched it, it took me two days to finish it. I finished all of it.