On Monday top 100 Class of 2019 prospect DJ Jeffries announced via Twitter that he was reopening his recruitment after verbally committing to Kentucky in March. When a prospect makes the decision to de-commit, it’s pretty much expected that there will be a negative reaction from a portion of the fan base.
But in the case of Jeffries, he apparently also had to deal with some negative feedback from the Kentucky coaching staff when informing them of his decision to reopen things. During an appearance of 92.9 FM in Memphis Tuesday morning, Jeffries’ father Corey said that in his view the coaches were “kind of unprofessional” regarding his son’s decision.
“We talked with Kentucky and it kind of shocked me. They were kind of unprofessional,” Jeffries said in the interview. “They didn’t handle the news the way I expected them to handle it.”
Of course a coaching staff will be disappointed when told that a recruit has decided to reopen things. The key in any instance is to not allow the disappointment to cross over into disrespect. What happened here? Only those who were part of that conversation can give a clear answer.
Obviously there is Corey Jeffries’ point of view on the discussion that occurred following his son’s decision, which is why it’s being discussed here. It would be good to know the Kentucky viewpoint on this situation, but NCAA rules don’t allow coaches to comment on an unsigned prospective student-athlete.
Jeffries has a clear connection to Memphis, as he played his grassroots basketball for the program formerly run by current Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway. And at the time of Jeffries’ commitment to Kentucky the Memphis basketball program was anything but stable, as rumors were swirling regarding the future of then-head coach Tubby Smith.
Memphis did not relieve Smith of his duties until March 15, three days after Jeffries committed to Kentucky. Of course the rumor mill had Hardaway as the clear favorite to replace Smith even before the move became official, but you can’t blame Jeffries and his family if the thought process at the time was to go with Kentucky rather than wait to see if Memphis was going to make a change.
According to Corey Jeffries, having a longstanding relationship with Hardaway is a factor in his son’s recruitment and that should come as a surprise to no one. While other high-major programs, including Mississippi State and LSU, have reached out to Jeffries in the aftermath of his de-commitment from Kentucky, it would be tough to blame anyone who views Memphis as the favorite at this point.
And with one of the top 2019 prospects in James Wiseman having both Kentucky and Memphis in his final eight — many believe those two schools are the clear favorites — this won’t be the last time the Wildcats and Tigers cross paths on the recruiting trail.