DJ WagnerThe high school No. 1 announced his commitment to Kentucky men’s basketball on Monday, choosing the Wildcats over Louisville.
Wagner’s commitment gives John Calipari and Kentucky the number one recruiting rank in the nation. If the Wildcats finish the course at the top – and Wagner’s pledge will likely seal that – it will be the seventh time since Calipari took over in Lexington that Kentucky has the top-ranked employment category. Wagner is also the fourth No. 1 Recruit to commit to the Wildcats under Calipari, then cheddon sharpAnd the Nerlence Noel And the Anthony Davis.
“This was a very difficult decision that I went back and forth for a long time. That’s why it took so long,” Wagner told ESPN. “I’m really satisfied with my decision. Coach John Calipari has always been upfront and upfront with me. He said he’ll be with me until the wheels fall out of the car either way. It means a lot to me. When I watched him coach I can feel the sharpness, how he’s leading his team and how he breaks it.”
“The atmosphere in Kentucky is incredible,” he added. “I’ve been there a few times and that’s what I feel most comfortable with.”
Wagner was the subject of an intense recruitment battle between the two in-state rivals Kentucky and Louisville, with strong family ties to both programs. Calipari coached Wagner’s father, Daguan, in Memphis, and first-year Louisville coach Kenny Payne played with Milt, Wagner’s grandfather, on the 1986 Louisville National Championship team.
In May, Payne appointed Milt Wagner as program director for player development and alumni relationship — a move similar to what Calipari hired Milt in Memphis in 2000. Karim Watkinsis a tour of Kentucky.
“My older brother Karim is in the team,” he said. “This has made a huge difference. I am looking forward to it; we are very close.
“My grandfather was always my grandfather throughout the process. He never tried to recruit me. He always said what was best for me. He was a mentor in my life and helped me develop into the player and person I am. Be family first. Nothing but love for him.”
Wagner, the 6-foot-3 guard from Camden High School (NJ), considered the best prospect in the 2023 class since the start of his high school career. He averaged 18.8 points and 4.9 assists on the Nike EYBL circuit with NJ Scholars’ primary this past spring and summer, including nine 20-point efforts in 18 games. As a high school rookie last season, Wagner averaged 19.8 points and led Camden to the New Jersey State Championships.
Wagner also helped lead NBA to the gold medal at the 2022 FIBA U-17 World Championships, starting all seven games with an average of 9.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists.
Brings the true competitive spirit of the game; Winning is critical to Wagner. He went to American basketball with the mentality of winning a gold medal. He’s at his best on the open court, playing with transition. He can bounce defensively and then push the ball up like everyone else in the class. He puts a lot of pressure on the defense with his speed to score and his vision to help. He is a point guard in the mold of the Cleveland Cavaliers star Darius Garland.
When the game slows down in Halfcourt, Wagner’s optimization from the ocean has been an asset. He learns how to organize in the pick-and-roll business and has always been effective as a cliff breaker, getting paint in and out with high level body control. He’s crucial once he gets in the paint, knows when to pull up, jump, use a float or kick to his teammate for a shot. Defensively, he is effective when guarding the ball and also has good ball anticipation.
Wagner joins a class in Kentucky that now includes four of the top eight potential 2023 class, with Justin Edwards (Number 2) , Aaron Bradshaw (No. 5) and Robert Dillingham (No. 8) Already in the fold. The Wildcats also ranked #26 Red Shepherd.
This is only the third time in the past 10 years that one school has landed in four of the top 10 prospects in the same class: Kentucky in 2013, which had five of the top nine, and Duke in 2017.
“I’m coming to win,” Wagner said. “Winning comes first with me and I want to help Kentucky win as much as possible.”
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