DJ Jeffries was the first commit of the 2019 class. The four star power forward was early in picking the Kentucky Wildcats and stated that it was his dream to play for John Calipari.
On July 14th at the Peach Jam, Jeffries had nothing but glowing things to say about Calipari and Kentucky. He was even discussing which players at the event that he wanted to join him at UK.
When asked about the speculation that he may flip to the Memphis Tigers due to Penny Hardaway being the coach there, Jeffries responded, “Kentucky all the way.”
Earlier this week the script flipped out of nowhere as Jeffries became the first player to ever decommit from John Calipari at Kentucky.
After careful consideration prayer and countless hours of consulting with my family I decided to reopen recruitment it was a hard decision but I am confident that taking my time to choose the right school for me to better myself educationally and athletically is the right choice pic.twitter.com/Pqc4QlVqfd— Djjeffries™ (@lildjj0) July 30, 2018
Not long after the decommitment, Jeffries father went on the offensive and said that the Kentucky coaches were unprofessional, calling out the head recruiter (Tony Barbee) in particular:
They didn’t handle it the way I expected them to handle it, being professionals. I thought it would be handled better, but we’re not going to get into a mud-slinging contest with them. We’ll take the high road. That’s the way we were raised.
Jeffries father never stated exactly what was said or done that was “unprofessional” but he sure made it a point to push this narrative.
Could the reason be that Jeffries and his camp have been dishonest about the process the entire time? Back during the Peach Jam, Jeffries stated that he had not been in contact with Penny Hardaway since April after he committed to Kentucky:
Wow. Former Kentucky commit DJ Jeffries of Olive Branch back on the market.— Mark Giannotto (@mgiannotto) July 30, 2018
Told me at Peach Jam earlier this month he hadn't communicated with Penny Hardaway since April. Wonder if that changes now ... https://t.co/oANiptXO9X
This is counter to what Jeffries told WATN TV:
Asked by WATN-TV in Memphis if he was leaning toward choosing the Tigers, Jeffries reflected on his relationship with Hardaway.
”It’s something I think about because Penny and I have been so close for these years, and I’ve built a good relationship with him,” he said. “Even when I committed to Kentucky he would still reach out to me and help me with certain stuff to motivate me to do better. So Memphis would be one of the schools I’d consider.”
Even Dan Dakich thought it was everyone but UK in this scenario that was acting unprofessional. After all, there’s an unwritten rule in basketball recruiting that coaches don’t recruit committed players.
"Even when I committed Penny would reach out to me"..only item of importance in this article...seems like everyone in this except UK was "unprofessional"— Dan Dakich (@dandakich) August 1, 2018
Jeffries' dad: UK reaction to son 'unprofessional' https://t.co/cNbQidslC4
Far be it from me to criticize a kid for where he wants to go to school. If Jeffries would have decommitted and moved in, no big deal. It’s early and there are plenty of recruits out there for Calipari to focus on.
But when there is a concerted effort to drag down the UK coaching staff while lying about talking to another coaching staff, there someone needs to be called out on it.
The Penny Hardaway experiment at Memphis is already off to an explosive start. There’s no indication yet to if Penny can actually coach a lick of basketball at the collegiate level but good on him for at least getting off on the right recruiting foot.
That being said, you know John Calipari had to get in a veiled/not-so-veiled shot at Jeffries:
John Calipari doesn’t want to get into recruiting talk (DJ Jeffries). “I’m looking for guys who have always dreamed of playing at Kentucky.”— T.J. Walker (@TJWalkerKSR) August 1, 2018
He said recruits have to have faith and confidence in their games. He doesn’t make promises and says some kids need that.
Don’t look for Cal and Jeffries to reunite at any point in the future.