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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

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Olive Branch Conquistadors Retire D.J. Jeffries’ jersey

D.J. Jeffries could have gone to any school in the area. Many coaches kindly asked him to come play for their high school basketball team. But Jeffries was not having any of that.  He wanted to go to Olive Branch High School and put that program on the map for basketball.

And now they’ve put his jersey in the rafters.

Olive Branch recently retired the Conquistadors “No. 0″ in honor of Jeffries’ high school career. Now at the University of Memphis, Jeffries scored more than 2,000 points and more than 1,000 rebounds.

“This is a huge accomplishment for me and my family,” Jeffries said. “I am happy to be one of the first men to get their jersey retired. It is a surreal moment.

“I was the first one to have his jersey retired and no one is ever going to be able to wear it again,” he said.

Olive Branch has a great history of very good football teams making a deep run for the Mississippi state championship. Olive Branch has had some good teams in the past, but  Jeffries elevated the stature of the team – often by simply doing whatever was required for the team to win.

Jeffries was joined by his University of Memphis teammates as his number was retired. (Photo: Terry Davis)

“He meant a lot for our school, but he meant a lot for our city.  He has given so much to this city and the kids,” said Jeffries’ high school coach Eric Rombaugh. “When he came in as a freshmen, our program changed.  We were able to compete on a national level.  We have played 9 or 10 teams when he was that were nationally ranked.

“He changed the way we thought about basketball around here.”

During his four years at Olive Branch the team made it to the state tournament all four years.  One year the team had an early exit and lost in the first round to Tupelo High School (68-65).  In his sophomore year, the team advanced the quarterfinals and lost to Brandon (71-64).

In his junior year, Jeffries and his Olive Branch team broke through, winning a championship with a win over Forest Hill (66-44). However, in his senior year, the Conquistadors lost a heartbreaker to crosstown rival Center Hill in the championship game (75-73).

In Jeffries four year high school run he pulled off the rare feat of losing in the first and second round, being state runner-ups and winning a state championship in his career.  Jeffries attracted interest in “blue blood”  and Power 5 schools for him to attend.

Jeffries verbally committed to the University of Kentucky, but was not feeling the Wildcats.  But like so many Memphis area kids, Jeffries grew up wanting to play for the Tigers.

He has been following the team since he was a child. Jeffries played basketball for the Bluff City Legends formerly known as Team Penny.  This where his value as a player sent his stock rising playing against some of the best talent on the AAU circuit — some of whom are now his teammates at Memphis. So it meant a lot for his Tiger teammates to join in the celebration of his career.

“It means everything to me for them to be here,” he said. “To come and to support me it means a lot.  I appreciate all of that.”

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