Syracuse Basketball: 5-star PG with ‘Cuse offer makes his college decision

Syracuse basketball (Syndication: The Courier-Journal)
Syracuse basketball (Syndication: The Courier-Journal) /

D.J. Wagner from New Jersey, a 2023 five-star point guard who was offered by Syracuse basketball more than a year ago, has elected to suit up for blue-blood program Kentucky, according to media reports.

The decision by the 6-foot-3 Wagner to play for the Wildcats and their head coach, recruiting ace John Calipari, is not a surprising one.

In recent months, analyst buzz in Wagner’s recruiting process had centered on in-state rivals Kentucky and Louisville, as Wagner has connections to both programs.

However, more recently, a massive amount of predictions had arrived in the direction of Kentucky for Wagner on the 247Sports Web site, and the On3 Web site.

Thus, it was widely anticipated that Wagner’s commitment announcement on Monday would reveal Kentucky as his college choice, further strengthening an already loaded 2023 cycle for Calipari & Co.

Syracuse basketball always seemed like a long shot for 2023 five-star PG D.J. Wagner.

Orange coaches offered a scholarship to Wagner in August of 2021, at the team’s annual Elite Camp. Understandably, a lot of ‘Cuse fans opined that Syracuse basketball had little to no chance of landing Wagner, who is a consensus top-six player in the senior class and rated No. 1 in 2023 by some recruiting services.

That being said, in the spring, I came across a variety of reports stating that Orange coaches continued to recruit Wagner, along with other schools beyond Kentucky and, eventually, Louisville.

His offer sheet included Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Villanova and Temple. Additionally, college squads that reportedly showed interest in Wagner were Auburn, Arkansas and Michigan, among others.

But Kentucky and Louisville would be really tough to beat. For one, Wagner is the son of Dajuan Wagner, who played for Calipari at Memphis for one season prior to getting selected at No. 6 overall in the first round of the 2002 NBA Draft.

In late May, D.J. Wagner’s grandfather, Milt Wagner, was hired by Louisville as the Cardinals’ director of player development and alumni relations.

Although I never expected Syracuse basketball to win out for D.J. Wagner, I credit the Orange for giving it a shot. You can’t prevail in a top-flight prospect’s recruitment unless you offer him first.

Wagner, an All-American during the 2021-22 campaign, will once again contend for national honors as his senior year gets underway for Camden High School in Camden, N.J.

He earned a lot of high praise from national recruiting analysts and scouts for his performances this spring and summer on the AAU circuit as a member of the New Jersey Scholars Elite Basketball Club in Nike’s EYBL league.

One of Wagner’s high-school and AAU teammates, 2023 five-star center Aaron Bradshaw, is also committed to Kentucky. So is 2023 five-star wing Justin Edwards, who held an offer from the ‘Cuse.

As we’ve noted numerous times lately, Syracuse basketball has offered more than 20 players in the senior cycle. However, at present, the Orange is still without a commitment in its 2023 class.

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