D.J. Wagner, No. 1 prospect in Class of 2023, updates recruitment at Philly Live I | Zagsblog
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Saturday / October 23.
  • D.J. Wagner, No. 1 prospect in Class of 2023, updates recruitment at Philly Live I

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    By RICH FLANAGAN & ADAM ZAGORIA

    PHILADELPHIA — In one of the biggest events of the June live recruiting period, coaches and scouts came out in full force to take in Philly Live I at St. Joseph’s Prep. As they took in games over the course of 10 hours, one in particular had the attention of almost every person in the gym. Camden (N.J.) took on Colorado Prep (Colo.) and all eyes were glued to D.J. Wagner.

    The 6-foot-3 guard and No. 1 player in Class of 2023 according to Rivals, had 23 points, six rebounds and five assists in a 68-41 win on Friday. He nailed a pair of deep three-pointers from the top of the key and showcased that blazing first step as he went by one defender after the next. He put on a phenomenal performance for several college coaches, in particularly Villanova assistant Mike Nardi, who has deep N.J. roots. Villanova head coach Jay Wright was due to watch Wagner Saturday.

    “Villanova, great school, pretty good school and it’s a nice school,” he said.

    “It’s crazy to see all of the coaches out there,” Wagner added. “There have been a couple of programs that have reached out to me in the last couple of days. We’re excited to get back out there.”

    Wagner confirmed Villanova and Temple have formally offered him while Kentucky, Duke and Arkansas have all shown significant interest. Wagner’s father, Dajuan Wagner, starred at Camden and played one season for current Kentucky coach John Calipari at Memphis before being selected No. 6 in the 2002 NBA Draft.

    Kareem Watkins, Wagner’s brother, also plays for Kentucky.

    “Kentucky’s a great school and I love Kentucky,” he said. “Really I just love watching college basketball and I just love college basketball.”

    For Wagner, his gaze is on a full junior season as his sophomore year was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “I am open to every school and really enjoying the process,” Wagner said. “I’m not focused on committing right now. I’m focused on high school right now.”

    D.J. averaged 22.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game for the Panthers this past season on his way to being named 2020-21 N.J. Gatorade Player of the Year.

    “At the end of the day, we don’t care what he’s ranked,” said Camden coach Rick Brunson, a longtime NBA veteran. “We’re trying to get him to play at the highest level, so every day we’re pushing him. He loves to play, loves to work, so he’s an easy one.”

    Brunson said D.J. is “similar to his dad but he plays off his jump shot. He can really shoot it deep range, not that his father couldn’t. But his father’ s strong, would run you over. D.J.’s still young, he hasn’t gotten that strength yet, but he will.”

    He added: “I see him as a basketball player. He’s a guy that can score, if you double him he can pass. He’s not a traditional point guard who can come down and run your offense. He’s a scoring point guard, but he can make the right play.”

    After having led Camden to a 42-1 record over his first two seasons, there are plenty of reasons for optimism heading into year three. The biggest reasons are the addition of 7-foot big man Aaron Bradshaw and Elijah Perkins. Perkins, a 2022 guard from Ranney (N.J.) who boasts offers from Nebraska, Bryant, St. Peter’s and Robert Morris, avg. 15.0 ppg this past season. Both will complement 6-9 2022 forward Rasheer Fleming, 6-6 2023 forward Cornelius Robinson and 6-7 2023 forward Dasear Haskins to give the Panthers a vaunted rotation.

    In the meantime, Wagner will keep his attention on improving his game and see how the rest of the summer and AAU season takes him.

    “I’m just having fun and doing what I love to do,” Wagner said. “I don’t see it as pressure. I just want to enjoy what I’m doing.”

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