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.
Kentucky commit D.J. Wagner, 5-star prospect Ian Jackson attend Wildcats’ ‘disappointing’ loss to UCLA at Madison Square Garden
By ADAM ZAGORIANEW YORK — Kentucky commit D.J. Wagner and five-star target Ian Jackson were among those on hand for No. 13 Kentucky’s 63-53 loss to No. 16 UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden.
“You have to get mentally and physically tougher,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said after his team dropped to 7-3 following losses to Michigan State and Gonzaga. “You have to. You’re going to be in wars every game. For us it’s figuring out, all right, how are we doing this, with which group, who is it?
He added: “There’s one way to do it. You get in the game, and you perform, demonstrated performance. But I’m disappointed. I mean, I’m disappointed that we lost, but I’m also disappointed in plays that I thought we could make and some of the turnovers that I just thought were not necessary.”
Dajuan Wagner, who played for Calipari at Memphis, sat courtside with Knicks vice president William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley, while DJ Wagner and Jackson sat elsewhere.
Kentucky forward Lance Ware attended Camden High School and said Calipari has good track record with Garden State recruits. Calipari has recruited a slew of New Jersey stars, from Dajuan Wagner at Memphis to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Dakari Johnson, Karl-Anthony Towns, Isaiah Briscoe, Kahlil Whitney and Ware at Camden.
“Probably because guys like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, him having success, and other guys obviously being here, like Isaiah Briscoe and people from Philly,” Ware said. “But through those guys, they’re really close, and the guys all know each other and tell good things about it.”
Wesley congratulated UCLA freshman Amari Bailey on his way off the court, and also congratulated UCLA coach Mick Cronin.
As for Calipari, he saw Wagner and fellow Kentucky commit Aaron Bradshaw for the second half of Camden’s 91-50 win over Rancocas Valley on Thursday. Wagner finished with 17 points while Bradshaw was dominant with 15 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. Both players committed during the fall.
On Sunday, Calipari and assistant Orlando Antigua are slated to see the 6-4 Jackson when Cardinal Hayes hosts Christ the King in a huge New York Catholic League game. Former Kentucky star Jamal Mashburn attended Cardinal Hayes.
“It’s means a lot having them coming out watching and constantly keeping in touch on how I’m doing,” Jackson said.
Calipari also saw Jackson and Archbishop Stepinac point guard Boogie Fland in September.
North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis saw Jackson at practice Friday and is also in the mix for the Cardinal Hayes star.
Brandon Williams, the 6-7 forward from Christ the King, also attended the game, and UCLA head coach Mick Cronin and associate head coach Darren Savino will see him at the game on Sunday.
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.