The significance of a visit from a Kentucky transfer for Arkansas.

John Calipari’s recruitment strategy for shaping next season’s team seems to be progressing smoothly. DJ Wagner, a former Kentucky point guard, is set to visit Arkansas this weekend, as reported by Jon Rothstein. The connection between the Wagners and Calipari traces back to the early 2000s when DJ’s father, Dajuan, played in Memphis, establishing a longstanding relationship.

The ties between Calipari and Wagner extend beyond mere acquaintance. Hailing from Camden, New Jersey, Wagner was teammates with incoming 5-star freshman Billy Richmond in high school. Moreover, both their fathers were former teammates during the 2001-2002 season with the Tigers, fostering a familial bond. Such deep-rooted connections, spanning two generations, hold significant appeal for recruits with prior links to the esteemed coach.

Recently, Wagner visited USC, where former Arkansas coach Eric Musselman is now situated. Initially, it seemed Calipari and the Razorbacks might lose out on Wagner, a highly talented rising sophomore. However, recent developments indicate a shift in momentum favoring the Hogs in securing Wagner’s commitment.

Musselman has earned a reputation as one of the foremost recruiters of transfer talent in college basketball. Should the Razorbacks succeed in securing Wagner’s commitment over USC, it would mark a notable development, potentially signaling a shift in Calipari’s approach to recruiting transfers. Arkansas, under its new coach, could emerge as a dominant force in transfer recruitment, evidenced by their current top ranking in 247sports’ team transfer rankings, surpassing traditional powerhouses like Kansas, Indiana, and even archrival Kentucky.

Wagner experienced a mixed freshman season with the Wildcats, hitting a rough patch around mid-January from which he struggled to recover. While he showcased promise early on, scoring in double figures in 10 of his first 16 games, his performance waned in the latter part of the season, reaching double figures in scoring only three times in the final 13 games.

On average, he contributed 10 points, three assists, and two rebounds per game during his freshman campaign. Another year under Calipari’s tutelage could potentially benefit him, particularly in improving his shooting percentages—he shot 41% from the field, 76% from the free-throw line, but just 29% from beyond the arc.

Wagner was highly regarded as the No. 6 prospect in the 2023 class according to 247sports Composite ranking, holding the top spots as both a combo guard and player in New Jersey. His freshman performance with the Wildcats earned him SEC All-Freshman honors.

Arkansas has already secured commitments from notable transfers, including former FAU shooting guard Johnell Davis and ex-Tennessee center Jonas Aidoo, along with former Kentucky forwards Zvonimir Ivisic and Adou Thiero, further bolstering their roster.

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