Golden State Warriors rookie center James Wiseman has already burst onto the scene with his highlight-reel dunking ability shortly into his NBA career.
Wiseman’s head coach at the University of Memphis, Penny Hardaway, pointed out some differences when asked if the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal are similar.
“No,” Hardaway told The Athletic. “He doesn’t have the meanness that Shaq had all the time. Shaq had a chip. Shaq always had a plan. And Shaq always knew he was the best. James carries that chip now. But Shaq always knew he was the chosen one. Shaq came from a different path. He had a military base stepfather. That military background helped Shaq be tougher. James was raised with women. He had his mom and his sister. They kind of babied him and spoiled him, not in a bad way. They were firm. But it wasn’t the same.”
Hardaway played alongside O’Neal during their time with the Orlando Magic, where the duo reached the 1995 NBA Finals before being swept by the Houston Rockets.
Wiseman played just three games in college for the Memphis Tigers before the NCAA ruled him ineligible due to Hardaway’s involvement as a booster prior to taking the head coaching position. He declared for the draft seven games into his suspension in 2019.
Through seven contests for Golden State, Wiseman has averaged 11.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.