Louisville makes use of John Calipari’s playbook by hiring Milt Wagner, grandfather of No. 1 recruit DJ Wagner

John Calipari, after he was fired by the Nets 23 video games into his third season as an NBA coach, was formally employed as an assistant on Larry Brown’s Sixers employees in September 1999 – however he knew it was solely momentary. By then, the person who had beforehand turned a depressing UMass program right into a nationwide energy was centered on returning to varsity by way of the most effective job accessible following the 1999-2000 season. So, with this in thoughts, Calipari began spending a variety of time simply throughout the Delaware River in Camden, NJ, the place a highschool phenom named Dajuan Wagner was establishing himself as probably the most dynamic guard within the nation.

Quick-forward to March 2000, Calipari was employed at Memphis. He then added Dajuan Wagner’s father, Milt Wagner, to his employees and provided a scholarship to, and finally enrolled, Dajuan Wagner’s greatest pal, Arthur Barclay. Three months later, shock shock, Dajuan Wagner dedicated to Memphis, the place he performed one season earlier than being chosen by the Cavaliers with the No. 6 choose within the 2002 NBA Draft.

So Calipari and the Wagners go method again.

And it’s that robust relationship with the household – along with Calipari’s relationships with all people near the Wagners, amongst them Knicks government William Wesley, whom Dajuan Wagner calls “Uncle Wes” – that has without end made Calipari, now the coach at Kentuckythe perceived chief to finally land Dajuan Wagner’s son, DJ Wagner, who’s the No. 1 prospect within the Class of 2023, in line with 247Sports composite rankings.

However now, who is aware of?

That is as a result of Louisville introduced Tuesday that it has pulled a web page from Calipari’s outdated playbook and employed Milt Wagner, DJ Wagner’s grandfather, in a director of participant growth and alumni relations function, the place he’ll work for his alma mater and beside a pal – first-year Louisville coach Kenny Payne – with whom he is been shut since they had been teammates on Denny Crum’s 1986 nationwide championship crew.

“It is an honor for me to return to my alma mater and work alongside my brother Kenny Payne,” Milt Wagner stated Tuesday. “Louisville is my second dwelling – and I’ve at all times needed to return right here to work with this historic program that I contributed my blood, sweat and tears for as a student-athlete.”

For sure, the Cardinals are actually a serious participant within the recruitment of DJ Wagner, who will quickly turn out to be the game’s first third-generation McDonald’s All-American. Consequently, Calipari is all of the sudden susceptible to dropping the nation’s top-ranked recruit for the third time in a five-class span roughly solely as a result of a faculty employed somebody with established ties to the nation’s top-ranked recruit.

First, it was James Wiseman – the No. 1 prospect within the Class of 2019 who was, by all accounts, headed to Kentucky. However then Memphis employed Wiseman’s highschool and grassroots coach, Penny Hardaway, to exchange Tubby Smith, which led to Wiseman following Hardaway to Memphis. Subsequent it was Cade Cunningham – the No. 1 prospect within the Class of 2020 who was, by all accounts, headed to Kentucky. However then Oklahoma State added Cannen Cunningham, Cade Cunningham’s older brother, to Mike Boynton’s employees, which led to Cade Cunningham following his brother to Oklahoma State.

So will DJ Wagner be the subsequent to cross on UK?

That is the query I requested 247Sports’ Travis Branham.

“I consider that Louisville has been, and stays, the chief to land DJ Wagner,” Branham answered. “I positioned my Crystal Ball [prediction] in mid-April when sources started indicating {that a} transfer like we noticed at the moment was within the works. That is going to be fascinating to look at how all these unfolds, as Kentucky additionally has DJ’s half-brother on its roster in Kareem Watkins. However when it’s all stated and achieved, I’m at the moment leaning with Kenny Payne and the Cardinals touchdown the No. 1 participant in 2023. “

That appears to be the rising perception.

To be clear, solely a idiot would fully rely out Calipari and Kentucky, if solely as a result of he is nonetheless John Calipari and it is nonetheless the College of Kentucky. The Wildcats will keep in there, and sure be in there, till a nationwide letter of intent is signed. However there is no getting round the truth that Louisville’s determination to rent an alum with robust ties to the Wagners, and Payne’s determination to then flip round rent Milt Wagner, has sophisticated Calipari’s plans. As soon as thought-about one thing near a achieved deal for UK, the chase for DJ Wagner is now faculty basketball’s most fascinating high-stakes recruiting battle between two in-state rivals – one the place the identical transfer that helped Calipari 20 years in the past may cost him 20 years later.

Leave a Comment