Kentucky just received their first commitment of the class of 2019 in five-star forward DJ Jeffries.
ESPN lists Jeffries as the No. 17 prospect in 2019 and 247 Sports considers him the 26th-best recruit in the class.
He chose the Wildcats over Alabama, Mississippi State, Florida, and Kansas, among others.
Here’s the announcement:
— Djjeffries™ (@lildjj0) March 13, 2018
Jeffries, a Mississippi native, led his Olive Branch High School to the state championship just last week, where he scored 20 points and pulled down five rebounds in his MVP efforts.
The 6-foot-7, 200-pound junior averaged 21 points per contest this past season in 24 games, where his ability to switch between small forward and power forward positions frustrated opposing defenses from start to finish.
He has been seen as an incredibly raw prospect in his freshman and sophomore high school seasons, but took a major step up this past year on both ends of the floor. His athleticism has always been impressive, but it is now controlled and efficient. His jump shot is more refined and falling at a relatively consistent rate, he is able to defend three to four positions, and his motor is relentless.
The most impressive aspect of Jeffries’ game, however, is his raw strength and developing power. He’s only listed at 200 lbs. right now, but his frame to put on weight is very intriguing. Just looking at him, you think of a guy like Alex Poythress, who came to Kentucky at 215 lbs. with raw muscle and his body matured into a grown man as his college career progressed. Jeffries still has a year to develop his size and overall game, and he could easily enter his freshman year at UK as a 215-220 lbs. wing/forward combo freak of nature athlete.
ESPN currently has him listed as the No. 17 prospect in the class of 2019, but he will almost certainly shoot up the rankings if he continues to develop at the pace he is as a senior.
If he plays as a senior…
There are actually rumors, albeit quiet, Jeffries could eventually make a move to the 2018 recruiting class, depending on his academic status and if he can get a few things in order before the deadline this summer.
John Calipari has visited and watched his newest five-star commitment play three times in the last three months, including twice in the last month alone. He reportedly pushed for a commitment in his most recent visit last Tuesday. Jeffries, coached by Penny Hardaway on the AAU circuit, is extremely close with 2019 No. 1 prospect James Wiseman and loves the idea of playing with him in college. They already play together for Hardaway’s ‘Team Penny’ on the EYBL circuit.
The Kentucky coaching staff has obviously been pushing for a commitment from Wiseman, as well, but the talk of the hour has been surrounding a potential reclassification to the class of 2018. He has denied it on multiple occasions, but whispers are growing louder that we could see that potential jump this summer.
According to Memphis reporter Clayton Collier, Jeffries’ family also said he will not reclassify and remain in the class of 2019.
2019 Star recruit DJ Jeffries (@lildjj0), who will announce his college decision tonight at 7pm CT, will NOT reclassify, he will remain Class of 2019, per family
— Clayton Collier (@Local24Clayton) March 12, 2018
Like we’ve discussed on the site in the past, announcing a reclassification now would make a recruit ineligible from competing in the AAU championships this summer. Both Jeffries and Wiseman play for Team Penny, and they have a massive shot at winning the Peach Jam this summer. They would have nothing to gain by announcing a reclassification at this point. It’s entirely possible both players stay in 2019, but any denials made right now should be taken with a grain of salt.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, did John Calipari push for a commitment from Jeffries to secure a commitment from Wiseman? Or did it have to do with the rumors of Penny Hardaway replacing Tubby Smith as head coach at Memphis, and Coach Cal wants to secure his commitment before his AAU coach got a shot? Have Jeffries and Wiseman discussed playing together in college, and want to make it happen a year sooner?
At this point, who knows? What we do know, however, is that DJ Jeffries is a stud, and Kentucky fans are going to enjoy having him. (Whenever that may be.)
Earlier today, Jeffries’ father told Memphis-based radio show Jason & John that his son has “always been a fan of Calipari” and that Kentucky is a “pro factory.”
“It’s a pro factory, man. If you’re talking about going to the NBA, you got to take a strong look at Kentucky,” said Jeffries’ father, Corey.
You can read the rest of his father’s quotes here:
Mrs. Tyler Thompson also wrote a piece on all the things you need to know about Jeffries, including his relationship with Wiseman/Penny below:
Here is Jeffries’ most recent highlight tape:
Welcome home, DJ!