James Wiseman never really got the chance to see what it could be like. His opportunity was denied to him by others, certainly, but more to the point he never gave himself the chance.Had there been no NCAA suspension to keep him off the basketball floor these past several weeks, he might have understood the ecstasy available to a Memphis basketball player playing for Memphis in Memphis. There is a connection between the city and the Tigers, especially those who are Memphians, that is uncommon in the college game. Wiseman will not be punished in the draft for taking this approach. His talent is too obvious for teams to dismiss him. He has sacrificed, though, the opportunity to compete for something important and to spread his brand beyond those who view him merely as that guy who got suspended. There is value in that, or there would have been no celebration in the Pelicans’ ticket offices when their organization won the lottery to select Zion Williamson.And there is an intangible value, as well, as could be seen in Zion’s ceaseless smiles after every Duke victory in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. He expressed how much he enjoyed his experience, how much he cared about his teammates, how badly he wanted to win.In the space of five months, Wiseman could have left an impression on his adopted city that would have lasted a lifetime. Instead, he’s leaving. Wiseman was teased with that just a bit in the opening two games of his too-short college career. His coach, Penny Hardaway, understands the feeling better than anyone. It’s part of what brought him back to the city following his retirement from the NBA, back to coaching, and eventually to becoming head coach of the Tigers.And the collective possibilities were boundless, as well. The constant rotation at the top of the Associated Press poll, the results impacting the highest-rated teams almost nightly and the stirring performances of the Tigers in Wiseman’s absence all suggest the potential for this team — his team — was enormous.Thursday, through an Instagram post, Wiseman declared he was withdrawing from the University of Memphis and would look forward to preparing for the 2020 NBA Draft. His college career ends with these small totals: three games played, 59 points scored, two games won.A 7-1 center with a developing jump shot, he was the No. 1 prospect in the 2019 recruiting class. He will leave, though, having made the slightest impact on the college game since the NBA age limit was installed in 2005 and Greg Oden became the first gigantic talent to attend college in a dozen years.“When you get a player described as a generational talent and then have this occur, you can’t help but think, ‘What if?'” Dave Woloshin, who has done play-by-play for Tigers basketball since 1986, told Sporting News. “I am really sad for him personally. I view him as a victim. But I have no idea what changed.”MORE: College Basketball Athlete of the DecadeMemphis is undefeated since Wiseman’s suspension. There was so much excitement in the city about what could be possible when the nation’s brightest talent rejoined a team that, without him, won on the road at Tennessee and UAB, at home against Ole Miss and on a neutral court against N.C. State. With Duke and Kentucky losing to middling mid-majors, with Michigan State recovering from Joshua Langford’s injury, it appeared as though a team this resilient bolstered by a player so gifted could join the ranks of genuine national title contenders.Woloshin acknowledged he began to think about that very thing when Kentucky fell on a neutral court late Wednesday to a developing (and unranked) Utah squad.Wiseman had not played for the Tigers since a Nov. 12 loss at Oregon. He was declared ineligible and then reinstated under the grounds he serve a 12-game suspension that would have returned him to the court in mid-January. All this time away from the game is time in which the negatives of competing at the college level could be emphasized by those interested in Wiseman’s future earning potential.For one, there is the current prohibition to compete. That such a circumstance could develop after he’d been informed in May there would be no issues was bound to engender mistrust toward the NCAA. There is the possibility of injury, which inevitably is exaggerated in such a conversation but is not imaginary. (He could get hurt, as well, doing the predraft training he promised in his post). And there is the wait for the money that will be available to him once he enters the professional game.He can be a pro now, but he can’t be an NBA player. So there isn’t much immediately available to him. He can move into a nice, new home using the credit that will be made easily available to him as a projected top pick in the draft and do so beyond the purview of the NCAA. He probably could sign an endorsement deal with an athletic apparel company, though he has less leverage at this point in such a negotiation than when his draft destination clears up or if he’d finished out this season as a Final Four hero.Wiseman played a single game for the Tigers, scoring 28 points and grabbing 11 rebounds on opening night against South Carolina State, before the NCAA indicated to Memphis he was likely ineligible. That ruling was on account of an $11,500 payment Hardaway had made to Wiseman’s family when James moved from Nashville to Memphis to play high school basketball for Hardaway’s East High squad. Hardaway has publicly said the NCAA was made aware of that in May, when the organization apparently approved him to compete, but the contradictory ruling reached the school as the Tigers prepared for their second game. Eventually, the NCAA determined he would be suspended 12 games. Whether he served all of that suspension or none of it has become a semantic exercise.