Louisville Hires Famous Alumnus Milt Wagner With The Hopes Of Luring His Grandson, No. 1 Hoops Recruit D.J. Wagner

It’s a family affair at the University of Louisville. The Cardinals have hired one of their famous sons, former hoops star Milt Wagner. The former All-Metro Conference player will be the program’s director of player development and alumni relations under head coach Kenny Payne, who was his teammate on the 1986 Cardinals championship team. Wagner is also the grandfather of D.J. Wagner, the No. 1 basketball recruit in the country.

“It’s an honor for me to return to my alma mater and work alongside my brother Kenny Payne,” Wagner said in a statement. “Louisville is my second home and I’ve always wanted to return here to work with this historic program that I contributed my blood, sweat and tears for as a student-athlete. I’m thrilled to be here with a terrific staff and help this program achieve at the highest level.”

Of course, hiring the family member of a recruit is a violation of NCAA rules, unless the family member is one of the team’s three primary assistants. Being that Wagner has an alumni relations job that is with the university and not affiliated with the team, there is a workaround.



D.J. Wagner is a rising senior who has not yet committed to a school. Louisville and their hated in-state rival the University of Kentucky both have their sights on Wagner. But that’s not where the connections end.

The 6-foot-3 combo guard plays his high school basketball at Camden High School, where his father, Dajuan Wagner, starred. Dajuan was recruited and played his college ball at the University of Memphis under then-head coach John Calipari, who is the current head coach at Kentucky.

“My dad went to Louisville. Kenny, that’s my uncle,” Dajuan Wagner said last month at a Nike EYBL event in Indianapolis. “It shouldn’t take Kenny to get a job for my dad to be working for the university. He did a lot for that university. … I love Cal. That was my coach. It’s going to be D.J.’s decision. I’ll be happy regardless.
“My dad loves Louisville. And D.J. loves Louisville, too, because that’s where his grandpa went. Cal, that’s family. D.J.’s been coming to his camps since he was 5, 6 years old. I’d take him to the father-son camp and all that stuff. But Cal knows the relationship with Kenny. Kenny was there when we were going to the camps.”

D.J. said Arkansas, Syracuse and Seton Hall are also in the mix. But the pull from his family legacy at Louisville and the connection to Calipari seems like a tough choice. Hopefully, it will be his decision and he does what’s best for him and not his dad or his grandfather.

The elder Wagners both played in the NBA. Milt was drafted in the second round in 1986 and played for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1987-88 season. Dajuan was drafted No. 6 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2002 draft. He played three seasons with the Cavs, and injuries limited him to one more season in the league.

If D.J. Wagner makes the NBA, the Wagners would be the first family to have three generations represented in the league as players.

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