Instead of Memphis beginning the season with Will Barton dressed in street clothes as it seemed might happen earlier this offseason, the Tigers may have to play without another of their prized freshmen.
McDonald's All-American Jelan Kendrick has been suspended indefinitely while Memphis officials investigate a verbal threat he allegedly made to a teammate, CBSSports.com reported on Tuesday afternoon. A source told CBSSports.com Kendrick has instigated several fights with Memphis teammates, one of which was severe enough to prevent him from going on the Tigers' exhibition trip to the Bahamas.
Kendrick had been expected to be one of the decorated newcomers who propel Memphis back to the elite status it enjoyed under John Calipari, but the 6-foot-6 guard has not practiced with the Tigers since Wednesday. Asked Monday by the Memphis Commercial-Appeal why Kendrick had not been practicing, Tigers coach Josh Pastner would only say that the Atlanta native had a "personal matter."
Complicating matters for Memphis is that Kendrick apparently has a long history of similar outbursts. From the Twitter feed of Dan Wolken of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal:
Kendrick's status at Memphis isn't related to 1 incident. He's had multiple problems interacting with teammates. At some pt enoughs enough
This is the next level of trying to correct the situation. If he can correct it, he will make it. If he can't correct it, he won't.
Kendrick's pattern in high school was to act out and move on when he hit a rough patch. No consequences. Can't do that now.
These are deep-seeded behavioral issues that go back years. Correcting them doesn't happen overnight.
The key question now facing the Memphis coaches is whether they show patience with Kendrick or sever ties with him altogether.
If the Tigers suspend him for a few games and get him into counseling, perhaps in time he can change his behavior. If not, it appears there's no shortage of other teams interested in giving the talented but mercurial Kendrick a second chance.
[Kendrick's former summer coach Daren] Darby told CBSSports.com that coaches from other schools have heard about Kendrick's issues and already started calling to inquire about the possibility of a transfer at the end of the semester. Still, Darby insisted Kendrick would prefer to remain at Memphis, if possible.
"Recruiting never stops with kids, I'm learning," Darby said. "But we're not at that point yet."