Four-star power forward D.J. Jeffries has decommitted from Kentucky. The Olive Branch, Miss., committed to Kentucky on March 12th over offers from Memphis, Kansas, Florida and Alabama. Jeffries played on the AAU circuit for Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway before Penny took the Tigers’ job, and he committed to UK with Penny still coaching high school basketball.
Jeffries is good friends with James Wiseman and this obviously isn’t great news for UK’s chances with Wiseman.
The last I had spoken with someone close to UK about Jeffries was just weeks ago when the 6-foot-7, 200-pound forward had just finished playing at Peach Jam. At that time people close to UK were impressed with Jeffries’ skill and improvements over the summer and were excited about his potential as a college player. I can’t say for certain that UK’s staff is shocked by today’s news, but I know a few weeks ago they weren’t anticipating Jeffries backing off his pledge.
Also, it’s interesting that the Cats have locked in on a new wing, Kahlil Whitney since Peach Jam. Things have moved quickly in that recruitment and the Cats will likely offer Dontaie Allen this week. Both wings are more offensively gifted and that’s become a priority for Calipari.
Here’s what Jeffries told me in March:
T.J. Walker: “You have a great relationship with Penny Hardaway and he’s been rumored to be a candidate at Memphis. Did you consider waiting to see how that plays out in the coming weeks?”
D.J. Jeffries: “It didn’t cross my mind. You never know what Penny might do. Right now he’s in the middle of trying to win a state championship. I really didn’t want to try and bother what he’s trying to focus on right now. I wanted to do what was best for me and Kentucky is best for me.
Penny called my dad yesterday to congratulate me. He said he was proud of me. I don’t think he was too hurt about it.”
Remember, there were also reclassification rumors surrounding Jeffries before he committed to UK.
“It’s just a rumor. I’m gonna stay in 2019. I have an academic goal I’m trying to reach and until I reach that I won’t be reclassifying and for now I’m staying 2019.”
There’s no indication as of today that Jeffries is looking to play college basketball this year, but if it’s something he’s looking into it wouldn’t happen at Kentucky.
Maybe Jeffries knew UK wanted other wings and felt threatened or disrespected? Maybe over the last 14 days UK realized Jeffries may go elsewhere so they went after other targets. We’ll try to get to the bottom of this but at the surface this isn’t great news for UK’s chances with Wiseman. The Cats can easily replace Jeffries, although he did play well this summer, but Jeffries and Wiseman are boys. Pesky Memphis.
This is Calipari’s first decommitment 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