Since he could dribble a basketball, it has been all but guaranteed that No. 1 prospect DJ Wagner would follow in his father’s footsteps and play under John Calipari.
However, that was put in Jeopardy when Kenny Payne was hired at Louisville and hired close friend and former teammate, Milt Wagner, who is also DJ’s grandfather.
While that gave Louisville a short stint of confidence, things have continued to trend in Kentucky’s favor, and on Monday the Wildcats received the best news yet.
ESPN’s Nick DePaula reported that DJ Wagner has officially signed a NIL deal with Nike.
BREAKING: Nike has signed 5 student-athletes to NIL endorsement deals:— Nick DePaula (@NickDePaula) October 10, 2022
• Bronny James, Sierra Canyon guard
• Caitlin Clark, Iowa PG
• DJ Wagner, Top 2023 guard from Camden, NJ
• Haley Jones, Stanford guard
• JuJu Watkins, Sierra Canyon guard pic.twitter.com/RFX1eY1TFv
This is very significant. In the Kentucky-Louisville recruiting battle, Kentucky is the Nike school. While it is still feasible that Wagner could choose Louisville, it’s not likely that Nike would sign an athlete that would be wearing an Adidas uniform.
No details on the deal have been reported, but this is a groundbreaking deal as Wagner will be one of the first high school basketball players to sign a major shoe brand deal.
No timetable has been set for Wagner’s decision, but he will be visiting Kentucky this Friday for Big Blue Madness. Could a decision be on the horizon?
Another player visiting Lexington for Big Blue Madness this week is Aaron Bradshaw, who plays with Wagner at Camden High School. Bradshaw is also set to make his decision on November 16th.
Just as the case was with Wagner, Kentucky once seemed like a lock to land Bradshaw before other schools, as well as the NBA G-League, jumped into the recruitment and muddied the waters a little.
And just as the case was with Wagner, Kentucky has seemingly surged back into the lead and is once again viewed as the heavy favorite, as evidenced by recruiting guru Jamie Shaw’s latest report at On3.
Here is what Shaw had to say about Kentucky’s chances with the 5-star center.
Kentucky has made Bradshaw their top priority at center. Coach Cal has made it a point to stop by Camden High multiple times to see Bradshaw and teammate DJ Wagner since the Fall live recruiting period opened up. Cal could also be seen at multiple Bradshaw games during the July Live Period.
Kentucky has been strong here for a while, and it appears the situation has been ironed out behind the scenes.
Kentucky’s chances: 85 percent
Shaw goes on to say the G-League is the biggest threat to keep Bradshaw from Kentucky, but this looks like a recruitment that John Calipari is going to win out in the end.
Wagner is currently ranked No. 1 overall at ESPN and No. 2 at 247 Sports, while Bradshaw is No. 5 at ESPN and No. 4 at 247. So there’s a very real chance Kentucky will add a pair of top-five commitments in time for the fall signing period, which begins November 9th.
Be sure to read Shaw’s full report for more insight into Bradshaw’s recruitment.