Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: DJ Wagner Commits to Wildcats, Giving Them Class No. 1 in Duke Rankings

Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: DJ Wagner Commits to Wildcats, Giving Them Class No. 1 in Duke Rankings

Kentucky landed another huge Class of 2023 commitment on Monday, when five-star guard DJ Wagner signed with the Wildcats. Wagner is considered the No. 2 prospect in the class by 247Sports and is No. 1 in the 247Sports Composite. He chose Kentucky over Louisville and many others.

With Wagner’s commitment, Kentucky overtakes Duke for the No. 1-ranked 2023 recruiting class. 14th grade Kentucky coach John Calipari as the program ends with the No. 1 class.

Wagner is a 6-foot-3 combo guard from Camden, New Jersey who has long been considered one of the best players in the 2023 cycle. Although his pedigree as the son and grandson of former college stars may have helped him hit the national radar initially, his game speaks for itself. A member of the 2022 U.S. Men’s National Basketball U17 Team, Wagner averaged 19.8 points per game while leading his high school team to a state title during his junior season.

With Wagner out of the picture, No. 1 overall prospect Isaiah Collier is the only player remaining in the top 10 in the class yet to commit. Here are more takeaways from Wagner’s announcement.

Wagner reconnaissance report

Along with his chops as a scorer, Wagner also averaged 4.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.2 steals last season. He scored 1,477 points during his high school career and was named Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year each of the past two seasons. Here is the breakdown of his game from Adam Finkelstein, Director of Scouting at 247Sports:

Wagner is a proven and versatile goalscorer, with many weapons at his disposal. He’s also an elite competitor who plays hard, has a way of raising the level of those around him, and doesn’t get enough credit for bringing a similar mindset to the defensive end of the game. floor. He plays in constant attack mode, accelerates directly at his defender while mixing in a bit of tremor and sneakiness, scores around the edge with both hands and is a legitimate threat to create his own shot at all three levels. He’s not a true playmaker, yet he’s needed the ball in his hands to be effective at this stage of his career, as he’s been the focal point of almost every environment he’s been in so far. ‘now. He doesn’t have a great stance size and is a good, if not tall, athlete overall. He also tends to get stuck in the first ear and has to learn to slow down and pick his spots. Above all, there’s no denying that he’ll need to shoot the ball from long range at a higher rate than he did this summer, and yet no glaring mechanical impairments should stop him from doing so.

The Kentucky class

Wagner’s commitment gives the Wildcats promises of five players from the Class of 2023. He joins small forward Justin Edwards (#3), center Aaron Bradshaw (#4), point guard Robert Dillingham (#13) and combo guard Reed Sheppard (#44) in the group. Duke’s No. 2-ranked class also includes five players who sit between No. 5 and No. 26 in the rankings.

Tough failure for Louisville

Wagner’s father, Dajuan Wagner, played for Kentucky coach John Calipari in Memphis and was selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft after one season with the Tigers. The family connection with Calipari was evident. But his grandfather, Milt Wagner, played for Louisville in the early 1980s under Denny Crum.

The Cardinals made headlines in May when they hired Milt Wagner to the role of Director of Player Development and Alumni Relations. In theory, the move should have given first-year coach Kenny Payne a leg up on Calipari in the recruiting process. That’s not how things turned out. With Louisville struggling on the field early in Payne’s tenure, landing a player of Wagner’s caliber would have infused some excitement into the program. Instead, it looks like Payne may have to push hard in the transfer gate after this season to get the Cardinals back on track after what’s shaping up to be a tough 2022-23 season.

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