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Commitment breakdown: Kentucky lands DJ Wagner

One of the more intriguing and drawn out recruitments of the cycle came to an end on Monday, where five-star prospect DJ Wagner finaly announced his intentions to sign with Kentucky. The No. 3 prospect in the 2024 class, Wagner chose the Wildcats over in-state rival Louisville, who once seemed like the frontrunner to land his pledge. Below, has a look at what UK is getting in the talented guard.


Wagner has long been seen as an elite prospect and his game has been nitpicked to a certain extent. That said, there are plenty of undeniable strengths to his game. The five-star guard is a scorer first and foremost and gets buckets in a number of ways and from every spot on the floor. What he lacks in truly elite athleticism he makes up for with overwhelming skill and the ability to get to his spots with ease. Wagner creates his own shots via pull-up jumper and a burst that allows him to get by defenders of all sizes. He’s a crafty finisher that has the ability to be a high-level defender when his effort on that end becomes more consistent. He has the ability to post eye-popping stat lines but is prone to an inefficient off game now and again, making his battle going forward one with consistency. When Wagner is going well, he’s as good a prospect as any in the class. He'll realize his full potential when he becomes a more consistent shooter and stops letting the occasional cold start turn into a cold game. He's come a long way as a facilitator in the last year and will likely continue to grow on that front at UK, which will probably be more comfortable playing him off ball early in his career.


Winning this battle tastes extra sweet for UK fans, as holding off Louisville’s new staff to land a prized prospect is a point on the rivalry scoreboard. While it seemed like the Cardinals led Wagner’s recruitment for a short time, Kentucky’s staff always remained confident. John Calipari’s recent trip to Spain to watch the five-star play for the 17U USA national team seemed to help seal the deal here, but sources say Wagner was leaning toward UK even before that. Calipari has a longstanding relationship with DaJuan Wagner Sr., whom the legendary coach recruited to Memphis in 2000. And while that certainly played a part here, it also serves as a larger reminder of the importance of the relationships that come with Calipari’s multi-decade run as a titan in the sport. It also drives home that Calipari's brand in addition to that of Kentucky hoops have become an ever stronger recruiting tool in the NIL era.


“The atmosphere at Kentucky is crazy. I’ve gotten to go out there and it’s nuts. The fans down there definitely love basketball.” – Wagner to’s Krysten Peek this winter.