By LARRY VAUGHT
He signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans, most of them University of Kentucky fans, for about 15 minutes before he even left the court.
Once he did get off the court and back with his teammates, there were more fans waiting in the hallway to get a picture or autograph from Kentucky recruiting target D.J. Jeffries, who had 35 points in a 91-74 victory by Olive Branch (Miss.) over Adair County in the Marshall County Hoopfest Saturday with Kentucky coach John Calipari and assistant coach Kenny Payne watching him play.
One even asked him if he could have his shoes — which brought a laugh from Jeffries as he explained that was the only pair of shoes he had with him.
“I tried to put on a good show for the fans,” the 6-7 Jeffries said. “They (UK fans) might see me in a couple of years.”
Jeffries, a top 15 player in the 2019 recruiting class, was 15 of 23 from the field with several rim-rattling dunks. He was just 1-for-6 from 3-point range and that disappointed him. He also had 11 rebounds and two assists.
“Just a little tease for Kentucky fans,” Jeffries, who had 25 of his points in the second half to help Olive Branch expand a three-point halftime lead, said.
He attended Big Blue Madness in October. He’s not made any other unofficial visits.
“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.
However, he came back to emphasize that he was not close to a college choice and had offers from other schools such as Florida, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Alabama, Maryland, Wichita State and Ohio State.
Jeffries did acknowledge the atmosphere at Hoopfest reminded him of Rupp Arena. He said a lot of UK fans were calling his name before and during the game.
He said it was an honor to have a “legendary coach” like Calipari come to watch him play and that he grew up a Memphis fan and wanted to go to school there then because Calipari was the coach. Former NBA great Penny Hardaway was also there because the team he coaches, Memphis East, plays at Hoopfest this afternoon.
“It’s an honor to see greats like Penny and coach Cal recognize great talent (by watching him play),” Jeffries said. “I could have shot better and finished on some easy shots but all in all it was a pretty good game.”