Depending on what happens with the NBA Draft, the Kentucky Wildcats could be down to just three scholarship guards next year. I know as of now, it is a common consensus that James Young may be gone and well, depending on who you talk to, the Harrisons are a toss-up. I would like to think that Andrew and Aaron Harrison would stay as their draft stock could be vastly improved in another year, but I always tend to be wrong on predicting this type of stuff.
If the Harrison’s do go to the NBA, Kentucky would be left with Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, and Dominique Hawkins as their only scholarship players. And we know what to expect from the last couple of years of getting freshman guards ready for the college game. So it was not a big shock that Kentucky is interested in a player like UNLV’s Bryce Dejean-Jones.
UK assistant coach Orlando Antigua called the head coach of the Compton Magic AAU program Monday night to inquire about Bryce Dejean-Jones, who will graduate from UNLV this spring and intends to transfer to another school for his senior season. Dejean-Jones — a 6-foot-5 guard — was the Runnin’ Rebels’ leading scorer this season.
Compton Magic Coach Etop Udo-Ema told the Herald-Leader that UCLA, Cincinnati, Florida State and Arizona State have also called about Dejean-Jones.
Udo-Ema previously coached Daniel Orton, who played for John Calipari and Antigua during their first season at UK. Another one of Udo-Ema’s former players is Waki Williams, who played for Calipari at Memphis.
“I know Coach Cal very well,” he said.
A player like Dejean-Jones would solve a lot of problems for Kentucky next year but as a lot of transfers do, he carries a lot of baggage. DeJean-Jones was involved in altercations at USC and his parting at UNLV seems to be the stuff of turmoil as well.
The 6-foot-5 guard was suspended for the regular-season finale after a confrontation on the bench toward the end of the previous game, which was UNLV’s final home contest of the season. Dejean-Jones also left the arena soon after that game, only to return later to talk with his coaches.
He came back from the one-game suspension and played in both of UNLV’s games in the Mountain West Tournament. But he reportedly was involved in a physical altercation with teammate Jelan Kendrick following their season-ending loss in the tournament. UNLV Coach Dave Rice told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that there was no physical altercation, but there was a verbal altercation between the two players.
Rice called Dejean-Jones’ departure from the team a “mutual” decision.
CBS analyst Doug Gottlieb told the Review-Journal that he overheard the locker room confrontation between Dejean-Jones and Kendrick.
“I was back in the bowels in the arena, and I heard some of the shouting and some of the shenanigans going on in the locker room,” Gottlieb, who called multiple UNLV games this season, told the newspaper. “I think Bryce was toxic. He was really hard to play with, but he needs a really strong personality as a coach, and Dave has to show that.”
Granted, Kentucky fans are going to overact more than likely of this becomes a serious courtship, but in the end, John Calipoari is going to be the best judge of whether a player is worth the baggage. I am always going to point at DeMarcus Cousins as an example of Calipari being able to reign in a big personality/possibly volatile type player and it should be noted that Cal has passed on Royce White and others as well.
There is no harm on Calipari having Dejean-Jones come to campus and meeting with him after the tournament. I don’t think Calipari is going to rush to judgement on a questionable player. And in the best case scenario, Dejean-Jones could realize that this is his last chance and become a Julius Mays type of player.