By LARRY VAUGHT
Maybe D.J. Jeffries’ family has taken it personally over what was perceived as a recruiting slight by Kentucky coach John Calipari and his staff, but the UK coach says he’s not that way.
Jeffries decommitted from UK’s 2019 signing class earlier this week. His father, Corey, initially told a Memphis radio station that the UK staff was “unprofessional” with his son’s recruitment. Later he told the Memphis Commercial Appeal it was UK assistant coach Tony Barbee that was upset over the decommitment and said UK not having a coach watching his son in his final game at Las Vegas last weekend put the decommitment process in place.
“They also said some things that they didn’t fulfill. If we going to be loyal to you, we expect loyalty back,” Corey Jeffries told the Memphis newspaper.
Calipari said Wednesday that he didn’t want to discuss “recruiting stuff” even though NCAA regulations prevent him from talking about unsigned players. D.J. Jeffries, though, was the first player Calipari has had at Kentucky go back on his verbal commitment to the Cats.
“We’ve been so fortunate and blessed that families have trusted us with their children, but this isn’t for everybody. 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. Then I’ve got to find out if they’re good enough. Because they may be 100,000 of those but there are only three or four that are good enough to really be here to make that work,” Calipari said.
“But if we look at those guys first, and then again you have to have a great faith in your own ability and confidence that you’re not – like I don’t promise anybody that they’ll start and play. Like, how much you’re going to shoot the ball. I just don’t do it with anybody, which some kids need that and that’s OK.”
Ouch. Could that have been a little subtle jab at Corey Jeffries?
“It’s the way we recruit. I’ve recruited the same way everywhere I’ve been,” Calipari said. “I think it’s been pretty good overall. And you know what? I’s been good for the kids.”
Calipari went on to explain that even players who leave Kentucky stay in touch with him. He said Kyle Wiltjer, who transferred from UK to Gonzaga, recently invited him to his wedding.
“This is the way we do this. They know we’re honest. Sometimes they look and say, ‘Shouldn’t have been here. I need to try this somewhere else, but I love you, Coach, I love what you try, but I …’” Calipari said.
“And we’re good with that here. This isn’t we don’t take this personally. I don’t get mad at anybody. You want to go somewhere else? I’m happy for you. Go.”