James Wiseman — the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft — played only three games during his lone freshman season for the Memphis Tigers. After being ruled ineligible by the NCAA because his college coach, Penny Hardaway, previously loaned his family $11,500 in moving expenses — when Hardaway was his high school coach — Wiseman decided to leave the program in protest instead of facing a 12-game suspension and paying the money back. The system had punished a kid for something that was between adults.
Why is Wiseman the introduction for a story about Mark Few?
Because he’s a great example of how college basketball punishes players while turning a blind eye to a coach’s error.
When Gonzaga suspended Few earlier this month for a DUI, nobody made a fuss about him having to miss out on the team’s “Midnight Madness” event, two exhibition games, and their season opener.
But then, TMZ showed up with the tape earlier this week.
What does the DUI arrest video show?
A drunk and annoyed man that acted like he could do no wrong, and that the police were beneath him. The footage shows Few refusing to do field sobriety tests, as he claimed they’re “totally subjective.” Few is also seen grabbing his phone multiple times although officers told him to put it away — an action we’ve seen several Black men get murdered for.
Few pleaded guilty, took his punishment like a man, and apologized for his actions. He’s not the issue here — despite driving drunk and his actions that night — Gonzaga is, as his suspension needs to be extended. But in typical college basketball fashion, it won’t. That’s not how this sport works.
At Wisconsin, the basketball team was on the verge of a potential mutiny after a 37-minute audiotape that was secretly recorded at a team meeting in which players unloaded on head coach Greg Gard. The school didn’t levy any suspensions on Gard, which was reminiscent of how nothing happened when Kobe King — one of the team’s few Black players — left the program. Eventually, we discovered it was due to one of Gard’s former staff members using the N-word.
Last season, we watched as Creighton head coach Greg McDermott told his team, “Guys, we got to stick together. We need both feet in. I need everybody to stay on the plantation. I can’t have anybody leave the plantation.” McDermott was suspended on March 4, for using racist language. Creighton reinstated him on… March 8.
It’s amazing what coaches can get away with.
In 2020, we found out about former Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall allegedly choking one of his assistants, punching a player, body-slamming another, and making fun of a third athlete’s Native American heritage. Marshall was able to simply resign, and agreed to a contract settlement of $7.75 million. Rick Pitino is still able to find a job despite all he’s done, and Will Wade is still on the sidelines at LSU even though the FBI has him on wiretaps talking about paying players.
Ironically enough, the one coach that was caught in the middle of a scandal and attempted to do the right thing suffered the harshest punishment. Louisville’s Chris Mack was hit with a 20-day suspension that includes six games after he recorded his former assistant — Dino Gaudio — trying to extort him.
Somewhere James Wiseman and Chris Mack have to be texting each other like, “Can you believe this sh*t?”