Prepare to have a nice laugh on this beautiful Friday evening.
Earlier this week, John Calipari lost his first commitment as the head coach of Kentucky in 2019 small forward DJ Jeffries.
It was an ugly breakup, as Jeffries’ father came out and said Kentucky was “unprofessional” when they brought up the possibility of a decommitment. He followed it up by saying the top-50 recruit was “bothered” by the Kentucky coaching staff not watching him play in his final AAU game out in Las Vegas.
John Calipari indirectly addressed the decommitment in his press conference yesterday, saying he wants guys that “dream of playing at Kentucky.”
“We’ve been so fortunate and blessed that families have trusted us with their children, but this isn’t for everybody,” he said. “This is really hard, and you have to want this as bad as we want you. I am always looking for guys who have always dreamed of playing at Kentucky.”
Now that he’s back on the market, odds are very, very good Jeffries ends up at Memphis to play for his old AAU coach, Penny Hardaway.
“(Penny being at Memphis) was a factor,” Corey Jeffries said. “It was a big factor. We have a bond with Penny already. It’s not like we have to get re-acquainted with him.”
And now that it looks like Hardaway has “stolen” a Calipari recruit (if you ask Memphis fans, at least), the delusion of the Tigers headed back to glory has unleashed.
Don Wade of The Memphis Daily News wrote an article this afternoon about the inevitable rivalry unfolding between Calipari and Hardaway, where he said Jeffries’ decommitment was step one in Memphis becoming “special on a national level” once more, surpassing Coach Cal and Kentucky in the process.
It starts with the NBA factory narrative.
“Calipari’s long-held trump card was that he was the one college coach that could just about guarantee you go to the NBA and probably as a lottery pick,” Wade said. “That promise perhaps doesn’t carry the same juice it once did. Hardaway starred in the NBA. Miller had success there, too. They were players. And they’re younger.”
Wade then said Coach Cal didn’t know how to get players ready for the NBA.
“They simply have a sales pitch – we were there, we played the NBA game, we know how to make you ready – which Calipari doesn’t. At least not in direct comparison,” he said.
No matter what happens with James Wiseman, Wade believes Penny breaks even with Coach Cal because of Jeffries, alone.
“If Hardaway gets both Jeffries and Wiseman, he wins. If he gets Jeffries and a couple of other elite recruits and Calipari only gets Wiseman, it’s at worst a stalemate,” he said.
I’ll let you in on a little secret… Wiseman is considered a consensus top-three recruit in the class of 2019, while Jeffries is listed as just a four-star on several recruiting sites. They aren’t even in the same stratosphere of talent and potential. One is a contender to become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, while the other will be in college for two years, minimum.
Jeffries decommitted on Monday, and Calipari replaced him with a guy of nearly identical status just three days later. A kid that actually wanted to be here.
And if five-star, top-25 small forward Kahlil Whitney commits to Kentucky in the near future, as expected, the Cats will get two for the price of one. Not too shabby.
Oh, but it doesn’t end there. Kentucky’s apparent recruiting catastrophe is just a sign of what’s to come. Memphis is headed back to the promised land under Penny Hardaway, while Calipari will be left searching for leftovers.
“What might be possible in 2019 is something else altogether,” Wade said. “That recruiting class has the potential to again make Memphis special on a national level. And as a sweet bonus, leave John Calipari as college basketball’s most-pissed-off also-ran.”
I’m sure Coach Cal is just shaking in his boots.
The wrath of Penny is (apparently) upon us, BBN. Take shelter.