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Memphis guard Jeremiah Martin out 4-6 weeks after hernia surgery

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis guard Jeremiah Martin will miss four to six weeks as the Tigers’ leading scorer last season recovers from hernia surgery.

Memphis begins preseason practice in late September and opens the season Nov. 6 against Tennessee Tech.

School officials announced Wednesday that Martin underwent surgery Monday to repair a hernia.

Martin averaged 18.9 points per game to rank second in the American Athletic Conference last season. The 6-foot-3 guard missed seven games because of injury, including a broken left foot that ended his season in late February.

Martin also led Memphis in assists (3.8), steals (61) and 3-pointers (51). He earned second-team all-American Athletic Conference honors.

D.J. Jeffries’ father clarifies comments after Kentucky decommitment

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After decommitting from Kentucky, D.J. Jeffries and his father, Corey, clarified some of the logic behind that decision in a story on Wednesday with the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Speaking with Mark Giannotto, Corey Jeffries talked about the earlier story that Kentucky staff was “unprofessional” when D.J. was decommitting from the Wildcats. Jeffries clarified what happened by saying it was assistant coach Tony Barbee who was agitated, not head coach John Calipari.

“it wasn’t Cal that took it so bad. It was the main recruiter (assistant coach Tony Barbee),” Jeffries said to Giannotto.

It’s also interesting to note that Kentucky did not attend the last July live evaluation period game of Jeffries as he was disappointed that his future coaching staff didn’t take in his last ever grassroots game. While many recruits get criticized for wanting too much attention, it is fair of Jeffries to be a little upset that Kentucky didn’t send one assistant for his last game on of July.

Now that Jeffries has backed off of his commitment from Kentucky, many expect him to end up at Memphis, as Jeffries has already heard from Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway.

D.J. Jeffries’ father on Kentucky: ‘They were kind of unprofessional’

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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.

DJ Jeffries decommits from Kentucky

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It’s hard to think of many things that could endear Penny Hardaway to Memphis fans any more than he already is as a hometown kid who played for the Tigers and went on to an iconic NBA career.

Flipping a recruit from John Calipari might well do it, though.

DJ Jeffries, a top-50 recruit from Memphis, has decommitted from Kentucky and will reopen his commitment, he announced Monday.

The speculation immediately centers on Jeffries’ future plans and if they include Memphis, where Hardaway was hired after Jeffries had already committed to the former Tigers coach Calipari and the Wildcats. Specifically, his father’s quote about Memphis from March before Hardaway’s hiring went official.

“We took a long look at Memphis,” he said according to John Martin of 92.9 FM in Memphis. “We can’t go on ‘ifs.’ It’s kinda crazy, because if Penny takes the job, then it would be something to take a long look at.”

Jeffries would be a major coup for Hardaway and Co. He’s a 6-foot-7 wing and a consensus top-50 player in the 2019 class with an offer list that included Florida and Kansas when he committed to Big Blue Nation. There’s an additional Memphis tie here as Jeffries is the nephew of former Tigers assistant Keelon Lawson, whose sons Dedric and K.J. played for the Tigers before transferring to Kansas after Keelon was demoted by then-coach Tubby Smith.

Looking even bigger picture, if Hardaway is able to nab Jeffries and James Wiseman, the top player in 2019 currently living in Memphis and being pursued by Hardaway and his staff, it would be not only a massive recruiting score but a major message sent.

Hardaway doesn’t have coaching experience beyond the high school level, but his name recognition remains a major asset for him as he looks to build a program. If he’s able to parlay that into keeping a pair of Memphis kids in the city while thwarting not only Calipari but the rest of college basketball royalty, that’s an announcement that Memphis basketball is back in a big way.

Now, there’s plenty for Hardaway to execute between here and there, but the fact that not only does that scenario seem possible but entirely plausible is reason enough for Memphis fans to be ecstatic.

Top recruit James Wiseman cuts list to eight, no one believes it

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James Wiseman, the top prospect in the Class of 2019, announced this weekend that he has cut his list of schools to eight.

And no one believes his list is actually eight schools.

I wrote about Wiseman and the intrigue surrounding his recruitment from Peach Jam two weeks ago. Wiseman is a Nashville native that moved to Memphis to play for Penny Hardaway’s AAU program and at the high school in Memphis that Penny, who now coaches the Memphis Tigers, was in charge of.

That AAU program changed its name from Team Penny to the Bluff City Legends this season, and Wiseman played for them in this year’s EYBL. In Las Vegas this week, he played for Hoop City Basketball Club, an AAU program that, up until this spring, when Mike Miller joined Memphis’ staff, was called M33M and funded by Miller.

But Wiseman has also long been considered a Kentucky-lean, dating back to before Penny was actually the head coach of the Tigers, where he’s been heavily-targeted by former Memphis coach John Calipari.

It is going to be fascinating to see this all play out.

And I say all that to say this: Wiseman also listed Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida State, Texas and Vanderbilt in his final eight schools.

But there isn’t a single person that I know of that actually believes anyone other than Memphis and Kentucky has a shot to land Wiseman.

So take that for what it is.

Memphis lands transfer forward from Louisville

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Memphis and new head coach Penny Hardaway continue to land quality talent as the Tigers pulled in Louisville transfer forward Lance Thomas on Friday.

A former top-150 recruit in the Class of 2017, the 6-foot-8 forward never got settled in with the Cardinals as he only played in 50 minutes during his freshman season.

Although NCAA rules normally force transfers to sit out a season if they haven’t graduated, Thomas plans on filing for a waiver that would allow him to play as early as next season, according to a report from Mark Giannotto of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. Thomas is arguing that his freshman season at Louisville changed after head coach Rick Pitino was fired before the season even started.

If Memphis gets Thomas next season, it would significantly help their frontcourt depth as Thomas could potentially see a healthy amount of minutes.

Since taking over the Memphis program a few months ago, Hardaway has landed a quality six-man recruiting class that includes three four-star guards. By getting Thomas, the Tigers bring in a frontcourt piece with some upside to compliment the group of freshman guards.

Thomas has three years of eligibility remaining — regardless of what the NCAA rules with a potential waiver — so Hardaway and his staff will have plenty of time to work with him over the next several years.