Georgia’s top basketball player signs with Memphis


Jelan Kendrick, the top basketball player in Georgia and one of the 10 best college prospects in America, shocked the recruiting world this past weekend when he called a press conference at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis on Saturday to announce that he had signed a letter-of-intent with the University of Memphis.

Once again, one of Georgia's top basketball prospects is heading out of state. (AJC photo)

Once again, one of Georgia's top basketball prospects is heading out of state. This time it's Atlanta's Jelan Kendrick. (AJC photo)

Previously, the small forward from Wheeler had said chances that he’d sign during the early period were “slim to none.” He chose the Tigers over Georgia Tech, Georgia, Indiana and West Virginia among many others.

“Yes he did,” Wheeler coach Doug Lipscomb said, confirming Kendrick’s decision. “I don’t know why everybody’s saying this was sporadically done. I’d think if you’re going to go on a [official] visit you have an idea you might end up playing there.”

It is unusual, however, to hold a press conference while still in town on said visit to announce that you’ve signed with the team you’re currently visiting.

But Kendrick, who transferred from Westlake to Wheeler for his senior season, is not your usual player. The 6-foot-6 wing is considered the top basketball prospect in Georgia, the No. 2 small forward in the nation by both and and the No. 8 player in America.

What’s also unusual is Kendrick is one of four Top 20 prospects — all of them guards — to sign with the Tigers so far. He joins Will Barton, Chris Crawford and Joe Jackson.

Jelan (pronounced Jay-LON) is supposed to call me back after school this afternoon. In the meantime,  he explained his decision to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal at that impromptu presser at the Peabody.

“I’m going to Memphis to help us win a national championship and be the No. 1 recruiting class in America,” Kendrick told the newspaper. “Josh really sold me on the dream of making Memphis one of the top powerhouses in the country and how we could accomplish that. . . . We don’t have time for ego trips or anything like that. We’re all focused on winning.”

“Josh,” by the way, is Josh Pastner, Memphis’ 31-year-old new head coach of Memphis.

The early signing period in college athletics continues through Wednesday of this week.

In other news, Georgia Tech finally received the official signed letter-of-intent from Jason Morris. The 6-foot-4 guard from Augusta by the way of The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn., committed to the Yellow Jackets last week.

“We’re thrilled to get Jason Morris’ letter of intent,” Tech coach Paul Hewitt said in the school’s release. “He’s an excellent student and an outstanding athlete. If I can compare him to some of the guys we’ve had in the past, he’s on the level of Isma’il Muhammad in terms of running and jumping.”

Kennesaw State men’s basketball coach Tony Ingle announced the signing of two players on Monday: Aaron Anderson and Mirza Sabic of Central Arizona College.

Anderson, a 6-foot-7 post player, is averaging 12 points, 13 rebounds this season.  The 6-6 Sabic  averages 14 points and six rebounds while shooting 45 percent from 3-point range.

“We expect a lot out these two men as soon as they get on campus,” Ingle said.

42 comments Add your comment


November 16th, 2009
1:10 pm

Enjoy your time at Memphis while the program is on probation..

November 16th, 2009
1:15 pm

The city of Memphis is the Casablaca of college recruiting.


November 16th, 2009
1:30 pm

Favors, the best last year signed in state with Georgia Tech.

Chip Towers

November 16th, 2009
1:36 pm

PM: Yes, but the times that has happened versus the many times more it hasn’t over many years is the point here.


November 16th, 2009
1:47 pm

Did I miss something? Isn’t there probation in the future for the tigers? Best of luck to all of these talented kids.


November 16th, 2009
2:07 pm

Well, I hope works out – with a new, unproven coach. That’s a heck of a risk for a nationally ranked, top 10 palayer….

Chip Towers

November 16th, 2009
2:10 pm

Reggie: Yes, Memphis is on probation. The Tigers were placed on three years probation after it was determined that someone else took a college entrance exam for guard Derrick Rose, who left after the 2007-08 season and was the first pick in the 2008 NBA draft. Memphis was also ordered to vacate the 38 victories and return $600,000 in NCAA tournament money.


November 16th, 2009
2:12 pm

The reason Tigers only lose games with no probation is because the cause of said probation is now at Kentucky. Same coach took hasty retreat from UMass before that. A recurring trend??


November 16th, 2009
2:25 pm

I dont blame him. Hewitt is on the hot seat and unless this team does something huge this year…he is gone. Chip how come it takes you three days to report on Jason Morris,a blue chip SG, choosing tech but it takes an hour to report on a prospect choosing a different school over tech? If this is the AJC recruiting blog, then why is GT constantly ignored….I understand our FB recruiting is basically over but our BBall program is talking to and recruiting multiple blue chippers right now…but not one mention of it. Please Chip cover GT and UGA equally….I know its tough but a journalist should resist bias…I am guessing you graduated from UGA?? Just a hunch.


November 16th, 2009
2:41 pm

Yes, Tigers do have to vacate their 38 victories, but have no issues moving forward as far as competing in postseason. You think they would be amassing the number 1 recruiting class for 2010 if they could not play in the NCAA? And that unproven coach is amazing….ask all the Arizona fans who wanted him as their head coach after Olson!!!!! I could be wrong, but I think he is just one of those young coaches that’s got it…..time will tell, but he does know how to get players.


November 16th, 2009
2:53 pm

I guess uga should just do away with mens basketball and split the saving for the other sport teams, it seem we will never establish our program with ga high school players. We lose to many top player in ga. to other schools. uga must stop the bleeding!


November 16th, 2009
3:52 pm

Hum……..sad the young man couldn’t believe coach Fox when he told him the same thing about being a trail blazer and coming to Athens and start something special……..We ( UGA) are like Coach Johnson ( football coach at Vandy) Telling a 5 star QB to come to Vandy and all your dreams come true….

Chip Towers

November 16th, 2009
4:02 pm

wiley: I reported that Jason Morris committed to Georgia Tech just as soon as he did it. His actual signing wasn’t official until Georgia Tech released it today. As far as Tech vs. Georgia, I certainly try to report them equally. The trouble is, this year the Jackets have already filled all but one of their football scholarships for 2010, so there is not a lot to report. Bottom line, I’ll try to do better.


November 16th, 2009
4:07 pm

How many head coaches allow a player to call them by their first name? Kinda strange to me. If Coach Richt or Coach Johnson had one of their players call them by their first name that player probably wouldn’t see the field for a long time. I guess things are different. Coach at Memphis wants to be a buddy to his players. Might be a recipe for disaster. Only time will tell.


November 16th, 2009
4:31 pm

Give it a rest wiley. As Chip replied, he noted Jason Morris committed to GT in a column last week. You need to get out more often, do some reading instead of complaining. When GT basketball kicks off you will be whining about negative coverage over an underwhelming team. Paul Hewitt is a very nice man, he and his staff do an amazing job recruiting given the poor facilities and his ongoing difficulty to win and win consistently. This season Hewitt should win 20 games simply by getting the team to the gym on time, contend for the ACC title and National honors. He has a virtual all NBA starting lineup. GT has “stars” all across the board, their starting 5 are among the most talented in the nation. Lawal and Favors would start in the NBA today.

I honestly don’t see how Hewitt can help but win 20 games. Should he fail to do so a Congressional investigation is warranted.

Chip may be a graduate of The University of Georgia, however I have yet to see antything akin to “homerism” by him. One certainly cannot say that about the Sports Editor Emeritus of this newspaper, Furman Bisher. ‘ol Furman is a virtual one man PR firm for GT in his promoting all that is Yeller and Black to the point of proclaiming Paul Johnson the greatest college coach in the game and placing him among the immortals and above Bear Bryant and Vince Dooley. And you try to call Chip a homer for the Dawgs. I don’t think so he’s an inexperienced amateur compared to Furman.


November 16th, 2009
4:39 pm

Really tough for UGA & GT to let this guy get away. But it happens all the time. He looks like a one year and through however.

Chip, wiley was out of bounds on his remarks. I am a Tech fan & read every word you write. It is hard to write about something that is not happening. And recruiting for football 2010 is over & recruiting for 2009 early is probably over for BB – when is the last day. You have been doing a top notch job on football recruiting for 2011. I know that is where the action is now – and the Tech coaches are out this week doing 2011.


November 16th, 2009
4:42 pm

Jamail Jone is headed to the Big East. He will be a Big Plus for that Program.


November 16th, 2009
4:58 pm

The Dawg’s new head coach needs to recruit better. Have you seen how many of the top players this year are from Georgia (several are in the top 20) but he didn’t sign any of them? I’ll give him a chance but he better start recruiting better.


November 16th, 2009
5:32 pm

Captain,Please don’t mention Dooley in the same story with GT or our coaches. uga has a long standing tradition of corruption,, just ask about Butts-Bryant, Harrick and Kemp. Your beloved Dooley had uga on probation an average of every 3 years in either basketball, baseball or football as coach or AD. I respect UGA academics but the athletic assn. has always been corrupt and tolerated by the fan base.

D Wilkins

November 16th, 2009
6:11 pm

Georgia has been the worst BB team for years in the SEC… It appears all the good kids here want to play for a TN team???


November 16th, 2009
6:31 pm

Hey Chip,

Since you have to be politically correct, I’ll say it for you.

To all you whinning arse Tech Fans:
When you prove to be able to sell out a 55,000 seat stadium, the local paper will give you some press. Tech fans need to face the facts that your fan base is just not passionate and accepts substandard results. (See the Chan Gaily and Paul Hewitt Years as examples.)

P.S. I have seen Chip have 2 articles on Jason Morris. Kendrick happens to be the best player in the state of Georgia this year. It’s a shame he didn’t give the triangle offense at UGA a try. Fox is a WINNER.

J Dog

November 16th, 2009
7:24 pm

If UGA wants to compete for the top basketball talent, we first need a better basketball facility. Wasn’t UGA’s facility a cow barn or something?

FL Dawg

November 16th, 2009
8:10 pm

If UGA wants to compete for the top talent, then they need to win first!!! Winning will turn the stegasaurus into a palace.
Fox has a war on his hands not a single battle. It will take several years for UGA to really get into a groove after the last 8 years of Harrick and Felton. Felton was not the problem at UGA, he simply was the first step. Felton never really learned to walk. Now Fox has the opportunity to walk, and run. It may take awhile, but as long as UGA can see improvement year to year Fox will be fine. Congrats to Coach Fox on getting his first win at UGA. Good luck the rest of the year.

From Memphis to Big D

November 16th, 2009
9:03 pm

Hi Chip,

Memphis native here and just wanted to shed some light. Jelan played on the Memphis Magic AAU team this past summer and I think they won some tournament or something. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that three other players from that team-Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford and now Tarik Black, all committed to the Memphis Tigers. It makes sense to me that he wants to play with guys that he knows and have bonded with. Also, Will Barton was recruited by Josh Pastner before Calipari left. After Cal left, Barton and his brother decided to commit to Memphis anyway to help rebuild. From what the Memphis media said Barton was doing his best to get Kendrick at Memphis as well. From what I understand Kendrick is familiar with Memphis, he’s familiar with 3 of his new teammates so I think he just wanted to go somewhere where he felt comfortable and could succeed. So you basically have 4 players from the Memphis Magic AAU squad(Jackson, Black, Crawford, Kendrick), one of the top shooting guards in the country in Will Barton, his brother Antonio who should be a good role player and a a big man role player in Hippolyte Tsafack. I think Kendrick and Barton just wanted to be a part of the top recruiting class in the nation. That’s one heckuva a perimeter with Jackson, Barton and Kendricka nd then Crawford (a pure shooter) more than likely off of the bench.

As far as the Tigers probation, that’s really just in name only. The Tigers didn’t lose any scholarships and they are not banned from any post-season play. All the probation says is that for the next 3 years the NCAA will be watching Memphis closely to see if they violate any rules. If they do, then they can get serious penalties. If they don’t, it’s business as usual. With Cal gone, I’m not worried about that “probation” at all.

Andrew Sherwin (The Dude)

November 16th, 2009
9:23 pm

Captain, nice try, but FAIL.

From Wiki:
Bisher was born in Denton, North Carolina, and was a 1938 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Jake C.

November 16th, 2009
10:38 pm

1) Memphis has a better basketball program than any University in Georgia.
2) Memphis has more supportive basketball fans than any University in Georgia.
3) Any and all problems associated with Memphis left when Calipari fled for Kentucky.
4) That makes TWO top recruits to leave Georgia in the past two years for Memphis (Witherspoon and Kendrick).
5) Josh Pastner is the NEW face of Tiger basketball. Do some research on JP, and the kids he’s recruiting and has signed. They’re all good kids…nothing like the players that Calipari recruited.

Memphis will be back in the final four in 2011…and this time it won’t be vacated. No Calipari, no problem

Andrew Sherwin (The Dude)

November 16th, 2009
11:06 pm

Jake C., if you’re right about #2 it’s only because Memphis has nothing else to cheer about. The Thriller Dome is a ruckus atmosphere and extremely tough ticket when Tech isn’t turning in 12-20 seasons.

Chip Towers

November 17th, 2009
12:01 am

Memphis to Big D: Yeah, I read all that about Kendrick’s AAU connections in Memphis. Not sure what an Atlanta kid is doing playing AAU ball in Memphis but I guess that’s another story for another day.


November 17th, 2009
12:44 am

Flash the cash if you want the #1 class ………… that is the state of college bassetball today.

Dan Marino

November 17th, 2009
7:30 am

Sounds like the young coach at Memphis learned the ropes from the maestro.

A signed LOI on the official visit? That is *old-school* and sounds downright Caliparian.

Somebody check Jelan’s bank account.

Dan Marino

November 17th, 2009
7:37 am

Oh, and Andrew Sherwin, Furman Bisher has only endowed a scholarship at one school in the state of Georgia.

William Casey

November 17th, 2009
8:36 am

As a retired high school coach, I suggest that you look into this kid’s transfer from Westlake to Wheeler following his junior year if you want the “inside scoop” on the Memphis decision. Just saying…

Jake C.

November 17th, 2009
9:58 am

@ Andrew Sherwin: be that as it may…9,000 people at a basketball game…that’s cute.

Memphis plays in the Fedex Forum -18,500 capacity…and it’s the toughest ticket in town. Watch this year. Calipari took all our 09 recruits, and we won’t be as good as in recent years…but every game will be a near sellout.

An assistant under Lute Olson and the son of a Houston AAU veteran…Josh Pastner has alwasys been known as a relentless recruiter.

The recruiting guru gets his first shot at coaching a team that has been the most dominant college basketball program over the last 4 years.

Remember, these kids are young. Their memories are short. When Jalen Kendrick was 12 or 13, Memphis was making deep runs into the tournament. Regardless of Calipari’s undoubtedly shady tactics, they remember the name on the front of the jersey.

Kids play AAU ball in other cities all the time, by the way.


November 17th, 2009
11:00 am

as long as the money is good at memphis, they’ll keep going there. there’s a system in place there that financially rewards their basketball players and at the same time makes sure they have the academic support which keeps them eligible. don’t forget that pastner learned from recruiting icons; both olson and calipari. let’s just hope that his ethics are more along the lines of olsen than that scum bag, calamari, valvano clone calipari.


November 17th, 2009
1:01 pm

Chip & Dan –

Just to clarify one point that seemed to irk you both – Jelan was NOT on an official visit to Memphis this weekend. He went on his official visit to Memphis Madness in October. He was coming to Memphis this weekend to attend a Memphis Magic AAU team banquet and decided to go ahead and pull the trigger and commit and sign while he was in town.

And if ANYONE wants to question Josh Pastner’s ethics, they better bring it! Do your homework on the guy and you’ll find that there’s no one more ethical in the business. Granted, he’s young and unproven on the collegiate level, but he was recruiting for and coaching a Houston AAU team when he was 16!! What were YOU doing at 16?! And, oh, that team he was coaching . . . they won the AAU national championship. So there’s some evidence there that he can indeed coach.

Jake C.

November 17th, 2009
1:29 pm

Thanks, TigerFaninGA…

Just to make sure these guys know…Pastner has played and coached under Lute Olson since 1996. He was an assistant on Calipari’s staff for a grand total of one season.

Memphis enjoys a lot of advantages; fan support, and NBA arena, and the support of Fedex…but I don’t think anything illicit is going on post-Calipari.

Go Tigers!


November 17th, 2009
5:43 pm

So Chip are you speculating that some “underhandiness” regarding this young fellow playing AAU bal in Memphis…………..?

Big Man

November 17th, 2009
5:46 pm

Josh Pastner is a great recruiter and is going to run a solid program. He can do what Cal did easily. Cal has William Wesley as a major connection and “recruiter”. Michael Gilchrist will end up at Kentucky. Josh has his dad Hal Pastner and connections in TX. he’ll be ok.

Bball guy

November 17th, 2009
6:47 pm

Memphis got a good player, but comes with a BAD attitude. It’s his third high school in as many years. He was put off a state-contending Westlake High team midway through last season because of behavior problems. Keep an eye on him to see if he makes it through this season.


November 18th, 2009
11:32 am

Honestly, i don’t think UGA will get many of the top BB players in GA until there is a major emphasis on Basketball. UGA football facilities are top notch but basketball not so much. Coach Fox will have to make do with less for right now. If he’s as good as advertised, then he will probrably move on like Tubby did.

BCS is a cartel

November 18th, 2009
1:42 pm

marcus you are an uninformed fool.

Bball guy, all of his AAU teammates love it. Jealousy stings. Chip wonders why a guy from ATL plays for a MEM TRAVEL team. These guys aren’t playing AAU hoops at the highest level. Nothing strange other than the fact that since he didn’t go to Tech or UGA it must be fishy.

BTW, Memphis is not on probation. In the end the wins will not be vacated. Listen to Jay Bilas, Dickey V, Bob Knight. They all say it is a disgrace what the NCAA is trying to do to Memphis. Rose was cleared to play by the NCAA clearing house 2 additional times during the year. As soon as Memphis started kicking BCS schools ass in the big dance, here came the NCAA again. Once again he was cleared to play by the NCAA. No proof has been presented other than one persons opinion. If the NCAA wins on the appeal, Memphis should sue them and refuse to return the money from the tournament. Then let the real story hit the fans.

BTW, what ever happened to : 1) USC, Reggie Bush’s umemployed parents living in a $500K condo in LA. 2) USC, OJ Mayo getting cash from the coach Tim Floyd. 3) UCONN, Jim Calhoun program paying players? BCS conferences buired the issues.

bee shabazz

November 19th, 2009
8:20 pm

Everything about this dude is shaky. 1st off he transferred to WHEELER, you know home of the TALENTSNATCHERS! This dude been walking around with his hands out ever since COACH ROGERS suspended him last year. Jelan wasn’t good enuff’ LAST YEAR to shine with the ATL. CELTICS or WORLDWIDE so he went to MEMPHIS were he would be the man because of the lesser talent there.