D.J. Wagner Jr., the number one recruit in the 2023 class, has committed to Kentucky in what was one of the more bizarre recruitments in recent memory.
Breaking: DJ Wagner tells @PaulBiancardi he has committed to the University of Kentucky.
Wagner is the No. 1 overall prospect in the ESPN 100 for the class of 2023. @SportsCenterNEXT pic.twitter.com/os4D7J8DUB
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 14, 2022
Wagner has been viewed as a top player in the class of 2023 ever since they have been rating kids in that class. He was also viewed as a lock to go to Kentucky for years. His father, Dajuan Wagner, was one of John Calipari’s first one-and-dones during his time at Memphis. Wagner and Calipari have been friends ever since, therefore leading people to believe that Wagner Jr. would ultimately follow in his father’s footsteps and play for coach Calipari at Kentucky.
With Kentucky being viewed as the strong favorite for Wagner’s commitment, Louisville made a power play. In May, they would hire Wagner’s grandfather, Milt Wagner, in an alumni relations role. Milt Wagner played with new Cardinals’ coach Kenny Payne at Louisville in the early 1980s. The move paralleled Calipari in 2000 when he hired Milt Wagner at Memphis, leading to Dajuan Wagner’s pledge to Memphis. Rightfully so, Louisville gained momentum on the recruiting trail and some insiders even predicted that Wagner Jr. would end up at Louisville. However, Kentucky never wavered, and Calipari continued to work.
In an age where social media presences are so important, a lot of high school athletes will post any form of visits, offers, and announcements on social media. Wagner Jr., however, kept most in the dark. It was kept very close to the vest, and he did not want the media circus that surrounded his recruitment. That all went out the window when he signed a massive NIL deal with Nike. Louisville, being an Adidas school, were seemingly out of the race.
👀 the latest G.T. Cut 2 ‘Fundamental’ colorway. Dropping soon. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/pUJFwbHEDD
— Nike Basketball (@nikebasketball) November 5, 2022
After a long and sometimes bizarre recruitment, on Monday, Wagner Jr. finally announced his commitment to Kentucky. He joins Justin Edwards, Aaron Bradshaw, Robert Dillingham, and Reed Sheppard in the class of 2023. That is four of the top eight and five of the top 26 players in ESPN’s Recruiting Database. With the elite recruiting class and whoever returns from the 2022 team, Kentucky will likely be a top five team heading into next year with a great chance at cutting down the nets.
Kentucky now has FOUR top 10 ranked commits from the class of 2023 🤯
#1 DJ Wagner
#2 Justin Edwards
#5 Aaron Bradshaw
#8 Rob Dillingham pic.twitter.com/XnoexjE52k
— Overtime (@overtime) November 14, 2022