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Kentucky Guard Seals Commitment to Arkansas

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Star Kentucky Wildcats guard DJ Wagner will reportedly join coach John Calipari in Arkansas. Wagner averaged 9.9 points per game at Kentucky for his freshman season.

Kentucky Guard Seals Commitment to Arkansas

DJ Wagner, previously the #4 recruit in the recruiting class of 2023, recently committed to Arkansas after nearly a month in the transfer portal, per sources at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. After struggling in his freshman season, he follows ex-Kentucky coach and family friend John Calipari to Fayetteville.

Wagner entered his first season at Rupp Arena widely touted as the top recruit in the 2023 class, facing competition from projected lottery picks Ron Holland, Cody Williams, and more. However, the 6’4 guard struggled with injuries, shooting woes, a mentality shift, and an uber-competitive Wildcats backcourt. Wagner went over a month without making a three-pointer and finished his season shooting south of 30% from three.

Wagner ended his season with a whimper. In Oakland’s thrilling upset of Kentucky in March Madness, Wagner played 17 minutes, shooting 0-5 from the field while adding two rebounds and three assists. His struggles with the ball in his hands became emblematic of a frustrating, woeful season that ended with negatives all around.

After Calipari, who took an extremely active role in Wagner’s recruitment, made the shocking move to leave Kentucky for Arkansas, Wagner will reportedly follow him. He joins teammates Adou Thiero and Zvonimir Ivisic, as well as Tennesee center Jonas Aidoo and FAU shooting guard Johnell Davis.

Wagner made the somewhat surprising decision not to announce his commitment to social media — somewhat surprising in modern times.

Will DJ Wagner Bounce Back at Arkansas?

Simply put, Wagner will probably see a lot of touches and minutes under Calipari, just like at Kentucky. Regardless of whether Wagner is struggling or not, Calipari has made it public on several occasions that he trusts his star guard.

“I told him after, in front of the team, I said where D.J. and Justin [Edwards] are to where they were two weeks ago,” Calipari told Kentucky press after a 118-82 win over Marshall. “But I never worried about D.J. and I told him that. I went up to him and said, “You know, I am not worried about you at all”; Because he has a great temperament about it and he’s living in the gym. So it will bust through.”

In fact, Calipari’s trust in Wagner borders on delusional at times. Despite struggling with feet injuries and poor form, he still saw similar and even more minutes than red-hot players like Antonio Reeves, Reed Sheppard, and Rob Dillingham.

After the depressing season, Wagner’s stock in both the draft and the transfer portal is taking a free-fall. He’s not on most 2025 mock drafts, and he’s now ranked #38 in the transfer portal. Although there’s still immense promise in his game — his jumper can be fixed and he looked unstoppable on EYBL circuits — Wagner needs a boost, and soon.

Wagner slots in as a shooting guard, working alongside Davis or five-star guard Boogie Fland. Both Davis and Fland have proven that they can handle the ball and create shots for either themselves or others. For Wagner, struggling with creating plays and moving off the dribble, it could be a huge help.

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