Kentucky landed another huge commitment from the Class of 2023 on Monday, when five-star guard DJ Wagner committed to the Wildcats. Wagner is considered the No. 2 prospect in the class by 247Sports and is No. 1 in the 247 Sports Composite. He chose Kentucky over Louisville and many others.
With Wagner’s commitment, Kentucky leaps Duke for the No. 1 ranked 2023 recruiting class. If the Cats’ class remains atop the ranking at the end of the recruiting cycle, it would mark the eighth time in the tenure of 14th-year Kentucky coach John Calipari that the program has finished with the No. 1 class.
Wagner is a 6-foot-3 combo guard from Camden, New Jersey, who has long been regarded as one of the top players of the 2023 cycle. Though his pedigree as the son and grandson of former college stars may have helped him reach the national radar initially, his game speaks for itself. A member of the 2022 USA Basketball Men’s U17 National Team, Wagner averaged 19.8 points per game while leading his high school team to a state title during his junior season.
With Wagner off the board, no. 1 overall prospect Isaiah Collier is the only player remaining in the top 10 of the class who has yet to commit. Here are more takeaway’s from Wagner’s announcement.
Wagner’s scouting report
In addition to his chops as a scorer, Wagner also averaged 4.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.2 steals last season. He’s scored 1,477 points in his high school career and has been named Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year each of the past two seasons. Here is the breakdown of his game from 247Sports director of scouting Adam Finkelstein:
Wagner is a proven and versatile scorer, with numerous 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 floor. He plays in constant attack mode, accelerates right at his defender while mixing in some shake and shiftiness, scores around the rim with both hands, and is a legitimate threat to create his own shot at all three levels. He’s not a true point guard, and yet has needed the ball in his hands to be effective at this point in his career, as he’s been the focal point of almost every environment he’s been in to date. He lacks great positional size and is a good, albeit not great, overall athlete. He also tends to be stuck in first ear and needs to learn when to slow down and pick his spots. Most of all, there’s no denying that he’s going to have to shoot the ball from long-range at a higher rate than he did this summer, and yet also no glaring mechanical deficiency that should prevent him from doing so.
Wagner’s commitment gives the Wildcats pledges from five players in the Class of 2023. He joins small forward Justin Edwards (No. 3), center Aaron Bradshaw (No. 4), point guard Robert Dillingham (No. 13) and combo guard Reed Sheppard (No. 44) in the group. Duke’s No. 2 ranked class also features five players who range between No. 5 and no. 26 in the rankings.
Tough miss for Louisville
Wagner’s father, Dajuan Wagner, played for Kentucky coach John Calipari at Memphis and was selected with the No. 6 overall pick of the 2002 NBA Draft after one season with the Tigers. The familial connection to Calipari was obvious. But his grandfather, Milt Wagner, starred for Louisville in the early 1980s under Denny Crum.
The Cardinals made headlines in May when theyto 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 played out. With Louisville struggling on the court early in Payne’s tenure, landing a player of Wagner’s caliber would have infused some excitement into the program. Instead, it appears Payne may have to do some heavy lifting in the transfer portal after this season to get the Cardinals back on track after what is shaping up to be a rough 2022-23 season.
#Kentucky #basketball #recruiting #Wagner #commits #Wildcats #giving #ranked #class #Duke