Sat Nov 13 03:37pm EST
Jelan Kendrick was a McDonald's All-American expected to make an immediate splash in college this season, so Memphis coach Josh Pastner's decision to sever ties with the talented wing so quickly speaks volumes about the situation.
It suggests that Kendrick was such a disruptive influence that not even his immense upside was worth giving him a few more weeks to change his behavior. It also suggests Pastner feels comfortable enough with the state of the Memphis program that he has no qualms about cutting loose a potential future pro for disciplinary issues rather than academic or legal ones.
"After meeting with Jelan today, we decided it was best that we part ways," Pastner said in a statement. "We are grateful and thankful for his time with the Memphis program, and we wish him all the best."
Memphis gave Kendrick numerous opportunities to be more respectful to his teammates and coaches, but the 6-foot-6 wing never managed to figure out how to keep his attitude and temper in check. The Memphis Commercial Appeal's Dan Wolken has the details of how Kendrick squandered his final opportunity, leading to him sitting out Friday's season opener and getting dismissed Saturday morning.
I've now confirmed from pretty much everybody there is to confirm that Kendrick acted disruptively at Thursday's practice and was pulled off the floor for awhile to get himself together. When he came back, he was fine. But then there was another incident at Friday's shootaround where he got mouthy toward a coach and did not have the correct response when he was reprimanded. At that point, the decision was made to hold him out of last night's game because he was pretty clearly not in the right mental state to play. Kendrick decided to come and sit on the bench, but his attitude had not particularly improved from earlier in the day, so he sat in the stands.
Part of the reason Pastner might have been willing to dismiss Kendrick so quickly is because the Tigers have a wealth of depth at wing. From Wesley Witherspoon, to Will Barton, to Antonio Barton, to Charles Carmouche, the Tigers have an abundance of versatile wings capable of absorbing Kendrick's would-be playing time.
Assuming Kendrick intends to remain in college basketball, he will likely stay at Memphis until the end of the fall semester and then transfer to a new school so he can be eligible by December 2011. Among the schools that originally recruited the Georgia native are Kentucky, Georgetown, Georgia and Georgia Tech.
Of course, it's possible that those schools will decide Kendrick is too big a headache and he'll have to enroll in junior college to prove himself again. More likely, however, one of those schools will become tantalized with his talent and decide to take the risk that Memphis decided it could do without.