By LARRY VAUGHT
When junior D.J. Jeffries came to the Marshall County Hoopfest, he said it was an “honor” to have Kentucky coach John Calipari make the trip to watch him play.
The 6-7 Jeffries had 35 points in a 91-74 victory by Olive Branch (Miss.) over Adair County at Hoopfest with Calipari and assistant coach Kenny Payne watching him play. Numerous Kentucky fans were also there to watch him go 15 of 23 from the field with several big-time dunks, 11 rebounds and two assists. He was just 1-for-6 from 3-point range — and said that disappointed me.
“I tried to put on a good show for the fans,” the 6-7 Jeffries said then. “They (UK fans) might see me in a couple of years.”
He was right.
Jeffries announced Monday night that he was verbally committed to Kentucky. He picked the Cats over Alabama and Mississippi State and is Calipari’s first commitment in the 2019 recruiting class.
He attended Big Blue Madness in October.
“It was a great experience. People in Kentucky, they love their basketball team. I feel like that’s something I want to be a part of,” Jeffries said during Hoopfest.
He had about 20 other Division I offers including Florida, Mississippi, Maryland, Wichita State and Ohio State.
‘He really does whatever we need him to do. If the game calls for him to go to the block, that’s what he will do,” Oliver Branch coach Eric Rombaugh said. “ If there is a lot of pressure on us, he does a great job handling the ball to relieve that pressure. He can hit the outside shot. He doesn’t shoot it as much as I would like but he has a very nice shot. There’s not much he can’t do at this level and that will translate to the next level as well.”
Jeffries played for former NBA star Penny Hardaway’s AAU team last year that also included James Wiseman, the best player in the 2019 recruiting class and UK’s top recruiting target. Jeffries and Wiseman are friends
Jeffries is a top 25 national recruit and the top rated player in Mississippi. He helped Olive Branch win the Class 5A state title last week and had 20 points, and five rebounds in the title game after having 20 points, five rebounds and five blocks in the semifinals when Calipari was at the game.
“I chose Kentucky because throughout this process they have been the most active,” Jeffries told PrepCircuit.com. “They have come to visit me and have made me feel like a priority. That is what made my decision.
“What separated them from the rest was the amount of people they have put in the NBA. They are good at developing kids to be out in one year and that’s what I plan to do.”