Louisville hires Milt Wagner, grandfather of first-class newbie DJ Wagner, to use John Calipari’s playbooks.


John Calipari was officially hired as an assistant to Larry Brown’s Sixers staff in September 1999 after being fired from a Nets 23 game in his third season as an NBA coach. But he knew it was only temporary. Until then, the man who had previously turned the disastrous UMass program into a national powerhouse had focused on returning to college with the best possible career following the 1999-2000 season. So with that in mind, Calipar began spending a lot of time across the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey, where a high school student named Dajuan Wagner had established himself as one of America’s most dynamic security guards.

Fast forward to March 2000, Calipar was hired by Memphis. He then added Dajuan Wagner’s father, Milt Wagner, as an employee, and offered a scholarship to Arthur Barclay, Dajuan Wagner’s best friend, and eventually enrolled. Three months later, surprisingly, Dajuan Wagner moved to Memphis, where he played a season before being drafted by the Cavaliers with the 6th pick in the 2002 NBA Draft.

So Califari and Wagner Way back.

And his strong relationship with his family, and Calipari’s relationship with everyone close to Wagner, including Knicks executive William Wesley, known to Dajuan Wagner as “Uncle Wes”, forever made Calipar the coach he is today. Recognized as the leader who will finally land Dajuan Wagner’s son in Kentucky, DJ WagnerNo. 1 prospect in 2023 247 Sports Overall Ranking.

But now who knows?

That’s because Louisville pulled a page out of Calipari’s old playbook on Tuesday and announced that it would hire DJ Wagner’s grandfather, Milt Wagner, as head of player development and alumni relations to work alongside his alma mater and friends. Louisville’s first-year coach, Kenny Payne, has been friends since he was a teammate on Denny Crumb’s 1986 National Championship team.

“It’s an honor to go back to my alma mater and work with my brother Kenny Payne.” Milt Wagner said on Tuesday. “Louisville is my second hometown. And I have always wanted to return here to work with this historic program to which I have dedicated my blood, sweat and tears as a student athlete.”

Needless to say, the Cardinals are now playing a key role in signing DJ Wagner, who will soon become the sport’s first third-generation McDonald’s All-American. As a result, Calipari is at risk of losing the country’s best new hires, to some degree third in its class of five, as the school has hired someone who has strong ties with the nation’s top-ranked new hires.

First, James Wiseman, the 2019 No. 1 prospect, headed to Kentucky. But then Memphis hired Wiseman’s high school and grassroots coach, Penny Hardaway, to replace Terby Smith, who followed Hardaway to Memphis. Next up was Cade Cunningham, the number one prospect for 2020. Headed to Kentucky from all sides. However, Oklahoma State added Cade Cunningham’s older brother Cannen Cunningham to Mike Boynton’s staff, so Cade Cunningham followed his brother to Oklahoma State University.

So will DJ Wagner surpass the next UK?

That’s the question I asked Travis Branham of 247 Sports.

“Louisville has been and will be a leader in bringing DJ Wagner in,” Branham replied. “I love my crystal ball [prediction] In mid-April when sources began to indicate that a move like the one we saw today was in the works. It will be very interesting to see how all this unfolds, as Kentucky also includes the half-brother of Kareem Watkins’ DJ. But when it’s all over, I’m currently expecting Kenny Payne and the Cardinals to be number one in 2023.”

It seems to be getting more and more reliable.

To be clear, only an idiot would rule out Calipari and Kentucky entirely because he’s still John Calipari and still the University of Kentucky. Wildcats will stay there until they sign a national letter of intent, and they will probably be there. But there’s no way to circumvent the fact that Louisville’s decision to hire an alumni with strong ties to the Wagners, and Payne’s decision to hire Milt Wagner, complicated Calipari’s plans. The chase for DJ Wagner, once considered a near-closed deal in England, is now college basketball’s two most exciting interstate rivalry-recruiting fights. decades later.

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