Syracuse basketball 5-star target drops from No. 1, ACC foe with big buzz
Many Syracuse basketball fans out there, myself included, have felt for a while now that, despite the Orange reportedly continuing to pursue 2023 five-star point guard D.J. Wagner, it’s likely that the ‘Cuse is a massive long shot to win out in his recruitment.
To that end, and I acknowledge this is speculation, a fellow Atlantic Coast Conference squad is getting a ton of analyst “buzz” these days for the 6-foot-3 Wagner, who was offered by Syracuse basketball coaches last August at the Orange’s annual Elite Camp.
I just checked the primary recruiting Web sites in the last hour or so, and by my count there are at least 11 combined predictions in the direction of Louisville for Wagner on the 247Sports Web site, the On3 Web site and Rivals.com.
Now, these sorts of projections can ebb and flow in a high-school player’s recruiting process. And for a long time, blue-blood squad Kentucky actually had a bunch of this “buzz” for Wagner, who was an All-American in the 2021-22 campaign as a junior for Camden High School in Camden, N.J.
I credit Syracuse basketball for making a run at five-star point guard D.J. Wagner.
Wagner, who has crushed it during the spring AAU circuit for the New Jersey Scholars Elite Basketball Club in Nike’s EYBL league, holds scholarship offers from the Orange, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Villanova and Temple, per recruiting services.
He also reportedly holds interest from other teams such as Michigan, Arkansas, Seton Hall and Auburn, among others.
In numerous interviews of late, Wagner has maintained that he’s not focused on a particular college squad, that his recruitment is open, and that the ‘Cuse coaching staff remains in contact with him.
As it pertains to Louisville, Kenny Payne was hired as its new head coach in mid-March, replacing Chris Mack. Payne is a former long-time assistant coach at Oregon and Kentucky, as well as in the NBA.
A few days ago, the Cardinals announced that Milt Wagner, the grandfather of D.J. Wagner, was hired to be Louisville’s director of player development and alumni relations.
Both Milt Wagner and Payne, by the way, played on the Cardinals’ 1986 group that captured the NCAA title.
I could certainly envision the recruitment of D.J. Wagner boiling down to Louisville and Kentucky. Wagner’s father, Dajuan Wagner, played for Kentucky head coach John Calipari at Memphis for one season prior to getting selected at No. 6 overall in the first round of the 2002 NBA Draft.
D.J. Wagner is an elite talent in the 2023 cycle, although when 247Sports unveiled its updated national ratings for this class on Thursday, Wagner fell from No. 1 to No. 2 nationally.
ESPN has him at No. 1 overall, Rivals.com places Wagner at No. 3 and On3 also has him at No. 3.
When I penned this column, the industry-generated 247Sports Composite ranked Wagner at No. 1 across the country in 2023, while the industry-generated On3 Consensus had him at No. 2 nationwide.