The hits keep coming for the University of Memphis and it’s rookie head coach Penny Hardaway.
Despite being undersized and overmatched by LSU in a 85-76 loss in Baton Rouge on Tuesday (Nov. 13), the program scored a win on the first day of the fall signing period, securing commitments from two top prospects in DJ Jeffries and Malcolm Dandridge.
Both signed national letters of intent becoming the initial members of the 2019 class.
Jeffries, a 6-foot-7 forward, was a highly sought prospect. He is ranked No. 1 overall in Mississippi and is the No. 9 power forward in the nation, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. ESPN ranks Jeffries as a five-star recruit and Rivals and 247Sports list him as a four-star prospect.
At No. 47, he is the highest-ranked prospect to join the Memphis program since 2015.
Through the early part of his senior season, Jeffries is 15-of-21 from beyond the arc and shooting 86 percent from the free throw line.
Last season, Jeffries averaged 20.8 points per game in leading Olive Branch to the Class 5A state title. He had 20 points, five rebounds and five blocks in the state semifinals and also scored 20 in the championship game victory over Forest Hill.
After the season, he was named the Jackson Clarion-Ledger Player of the Year. Olive Branch finished with a 25-4 record.
— MALCO DANDRIDGE???? (@malcoooo25) May 2, 2018
Dandridge, a 6-foot-9 forward, played for Hardaway when he coached at East High before accepting the Memphis head coaching job in March of 2018. Dandridge and Jeffries were teammates on the grassroots basketball team Bluff City Legends.
“First off, I would like to give a huge thanks to the man upstairs. Without Him, none of this would be possible,” Dandridge posted on Twitter. “I am blessed to play with the greatest coaching staff, including the man who’s helped me take my gifts and talents to the next level, Coach Penny Hardaway.”
Dandridge was the first commitment for Hardaway last spring shortly after he became UofM coach. He will join current Tigers Alex Lomax and Ryan Boyce, who also played for East.
“I’ve always dreamed of this moment, and now the moment is here,” Dandridge continued. “I can’t wait to perform at the next level at the school of my choice, with one of the best (if not the best) coaching staffs in the world!!!”
A top 150 recruit, Dandridge is listed as a four-star prospect by ESPN and 247Sports. He started on East’s state championship teams in 2017 and 2018 and averaged 7.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks last season. He also shot 57.9 percent, the sixth-best percentage in the city.
— Chandler Lawson???? (@chandlerlawson0) November 14, 2018
In other signing day news, East star Chandler Lawson has committed to play for the Oregon Ducks. And even in choosing to play on the West Coast, Lawson heaped praise on his former high school coach.
“First, I would like to thank God for the opportunities and talent that He has blessed me with,” Lawson posted on Twitter. “I would like to thank Coach Penny Hardaway and the coaching staff at East. Penny played a major role in my development that has prepared me for this day.”
The early signing period runs through Nov. 21.