It was a road trip for the Mississippi State striker DJ Jeffries. Entering his first season in college basketball, the former five-star inductee was John Calipari’s first commitment in the 2019 class, picking the Wildcats again in March 2018. He then became Calipari’s first-commitment cancellation, reversing his pledge four months later in July.
Jeffreys then committed to Memphis in October, joining Penny Hardaway and James Wiseman for his first year. He would stay in Bluff City for another year before entering the transfer gate and taking his talents to Starkville – one of the original finalists in his high school assignment.
Jeffries played coach Ben Howland his first year at MSU, starting with 31 games for the Bulldog. Howland was then fired at the end of the season, and the team finished 18-16, resulting in an olive branch, the MS national deciding to re-enter the gate in April. He then pulled out of the gate and returned to Mississippi State to play with new coach Chris Gans.
Three different commitments for four different coaches (including Calipari) dating back to 2018, four years of ups and downs.
“When I start something, I will always finish it,” Jeffries said of his decision to return to MSU at SEC Media Day on Wednesday. “I’m here to finish it off with these guys. Hopefully it’s all right with us this year. We’re going to go out there and give it our all, and give Mississippi fans something to be happy and proud of.”
It all started with Kentucky, a controversial four months as an unofficial Wildcat. He started as a Class 30 Top 30 Potential and a Wiseman Fellow, the UK’s biggest recruiting target at the time. Hardaway was signed to Memphis soon after, which led to immediate speculation that Jeffreys Wiseman could follow their former head coach.
Jeffries initially denied interest in the Tigers, but speculation of a potential partnership in Memphis persisted throughout the summer. During this time, the versatile striker’s stock has fallen, dropping from #26 overall to #52 in the final standings. By the end of the summer, Kentucky’s interest appeared to have waned a bit as well, with the coaching staff absent from Jeffreys’ last baseball game of the summer. Instead, the UK was recruiting elsewhere.
“It was the last game of his summer career, so he was expecting someone to be there” Jeffreys’ father, Corey, said at the time. “I guess that kind of upset him. That kind of shook him a bit.”
From there, Jeffries exited the show, and it wasn’t a pretty breakup. Corey Jeffries He told a Memphis radio station that Kentucky was “unprofessional” In her reaction to take down his son by commitment.
“It kind of shocked me,” Jeffries said. “They were kind of unprofessional,” they didn’t handle the news the way I expected them to, being professional. “
Jeffries finished in Memphis with Hardaway Wiseman, while Kentucky signed Khalil Whitney In place, join Therese MaxiAnd the Keon Brooks Jr.And the Johnny Jouzang And the Dontay Allen In class. The two parties have gone their separate ways, and each has had their fair share of ups and downs since then.
Now Jeffreys is entering his fourth season in college basketball and his second in SEC, and he’s proud of his journey and the growth he’s had along the way.
“It’s been a long and exhausting journey, man,” Jeffries told KSR. “I’m grateful to be here. At least I’m still here playing basketball. Everyone goes through ups and downs in life, and I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs. But I’d say I’m in good spirits.
“My grandmother and family are doing a good job keeping me composure, which keeps me high. Now, I’m so grateful that I play basketball, here with these guys, I play in the SEC. I can be me again, and have fun.”
Jeffries averaged 10.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.1 blocks in 27.1 minutes per game as a freshman at Memphis, playing in 19 total games and starting at 13. He followed it up with an average of 9.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 25.6 minutes per game with 28 matches played and 11 matches played.
In search of a fresh start in Starkville, he then averaged 8.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 28.1 minutes per game. He played 34 matches and 31 matches. He briefly explored his other options in the gate this off season, but ultimately decided Mississippi State was the best place for him to end his career.
Does he have any regrets about any of his past decisions – Kentucky, Memphis, or Mississippi? Things didn’t necessarily go as planned, but that doesn’t mean he lives with regret. His journey full of twists and turns helped him become the player and man he is today.
So he is grateful. Now, he’s just excited to see where life and the remaining chapters in his story take him.
“There’s definitely — everyone regrets,” Jeffries told the KSR Center. “At the end of the day, I won’t regret anything because everything happens for a reason. It might just be another part of my story. You never know what your story is. I hope I have a good one.”
Any hard feelings with Kentucky about how things turned out four long years ago? In fact, the opposite is true. He still has a deep love and appreciation for the UK, the first program he fell in love with.
“There’s always love with Kentucky, man,” Jeffries told KSR. “I just like messing with the fans sometimes. I’ll always love Kentucky. When I got committed there, they showed me so much love.”
“There is no hate there, I really love them. I will always appreciate KFC.”