Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Five-star guard Zion Cruz visits Memphis, looking forward to building relationship with Penny Hardaway
By ADAM ZAGORIA
Five-star Class of 2022 guard Zion Cruz wrapped up his official visit to Memphis on Friday and is looking forward to building a relationship with head coach Penny Hardaway going forward.
“It went well,” the 6-foot-5 New Jersey native who runs with the PSA Cardinals grassroots program said by phone from the airport. “The message was they just want to put the ball in my hands, they want me to be a communicator, be a leader and just stay in touch with coach Penny and build a relationship with Coach Penny.”
Cruz recently transferred toKanye West’s Donda Academy outside Los Angeles from The Patrick School, Kyrie Irving’s alma mater in N.J., and Hardaway is expected to go see him play a few times in California.
“Yeah, he’s going to fly to L.A. and watch a couple practices,” Cruz said. “Everything sounds good.”
As for his developing relationship with Hardaway, Cruz said, “It went well. I feel like we’re going to have a real strong relationship.”
Cruz recently re-opened his recruitment after listing a final three of North Carolina, Creighton and Auburn. DePaul and Georgia are also still recruiting him but he’s not sure if he’ll take additional visits.
“I was going to talk to my father about that one,” he said. “I’m not really sure right now.”
As for his transfer to Donda Academy, he said, “It’s going great actually. We’re supposed to be launching something insane so I’m excited for everybody to see that.”
Cruz said the students at the school, located at the site of the old Stoneridge Prep, will take online classes.
“We’re supposed to be starting Oct. 20, it’s K-12,” he said, adding that the students were living in dorms and will play a national schedule.
Cruz’s visit Memphis to Memphis overlapped with D.J. Wagner, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2023 from Camden High School. Dajuan Wagner, D.J.’s father and the all-time leading scorer in New Jersey prep history, was a one-and-done for John Calipari at Memphis.
“We hung out at the Midnight Madness,” Cruz said of Wagner.
D.J. went to Kentucky for its “Midnight Madness” from Memphis where he will meet up with his NJ Scholars teammate, five-star forward Mackenzie Mgbako of Gill St. Bernard’s.
Even though many in recruiting circles think Wagner will eventually land at Kentucky, sources said the family is wide open and wants D.J. to be recruited by Memphis and other schools. Villanova, Temple and Auburn are also in the mix.
“I get the feeling he’ll go to college,” one source said of Wagner. “I do get that feeling.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.