No. 1 recruit James Wiseman joining coach Penny Hardaway at Memphis

No. 1 hoops recruit uses unicorn to make college choice (1:13)

The No. 1 basketball recruit in the Class of 2019, James Wiseman, commits to Memphis, much to the delight of the crowd in attendance. (1:13)

James Wiseman, the No. 1-ranked prospect in the 2019 class, committed to Memphis over Kentucky on Tuesday.

Wiseman announced his decision on SportsCenter, bringing out a unicorn wearing the Memphis logo. He has been referred to as a "unicorn," like other players with his unique size and ability. He's also part of the "Unicorn fam" with elite 2020 prospects R.J. Hampton and Jalen Green.

Wiseman, a 7-footer from East High School (Tennessee), is the first No. 1 prospect to commit to Memphis since ESPN's recruiting database began in 2007. He is also the first top-10 prospect to pick the Tigers since Adonis Thomas committed in 2011.

Wiseman took official visits to Memphis, Kentucky, Florida State, Kansas and Vanderbilt, but this was always going to end up as a battle between Memphis and Kentucky.

Early in his recruitment, Wiseman was considered a strong Kentucky lean. John Calipari had been one of the first coaches in heavy pursuit, and the Wildcats made him their top priority in the 2019 class.

When Memphis hired Penny Hardaway to replace Tubby Smith in March, however, things began to shift toward the Tigers. Hardaway had coached Wiseman on the grassroots circuit with the Team Penny/Bluff City Legends program, and he also coached him in high school at East en route to a state championship. Hardaway immediately made Wiseman his top target in 2019, and Wiseman took multiple visits to Memphis' campus this fall and was there as recently as the beginning of this month.

Kentucky never truly faded in Wiseman's recruitment, but the relationship between Wiseman and Hardaway was too much to overcome.

Wiseman has been considered one of the elite prospects in the 2019 class for the past couple of years, and he maintained his No. 1 ranking after a strong summer on the Nike EYBL circuit with the Bluff City Legends. He averaged 15.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, while shooting better than 50 percent from the field. Wiseman battled No. 3 prospect Vernon Carey Jr. to a standstill in July, finishing with 23 points and nine rebounds in a one-point win.

"James Wiseman is one of the few players in the class who shows the ability to have dominating performances on both ends of the floor," ESPN's national recruiting director Paul Biancardi said. "His physical tools are elite by NBA standards, as he owns a 7-foot-6 wingspan and a 9-foot-3½-inch standing reach. The combination of his physical measurables, finishing ability and shot-blocking talent makes him No. 1 in the class."

ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony slotted in Wiseman as the No. 1 pick in his early 2020 mock draft back in October.

"In the paint, Wiseman utilizes his signature move, a left-handed jump-hook over his right shoulder," Biancardi said. "His frame and shot-blocking talent reminds me of Jermaine O'Neal at the same stage. He runs the floor with ease like a young Sam Perkins."

Wiseman is Memphis' third commitment in the 2019, class joining five-star small forward D.J. Jeffries (No. 21) and four-star center Malcolm Dandridge. Jeffries, who also played for Hardaway on the grassroots circuit, committed to Memphis in October after decommitting from Kentucky in July.

Memphis is also in the mix for five-star forwards Trendon Watford (No. 23) and Precious Achiuwa (No. 10). Both players already have visited the Tigers' campus.