LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Friends, teammates and even former opponents call. And they text. Everybody wants to talk to Milt Wagner these days. They want him to know that they know what's going on with his grandson, D.J.
"One (former teammate) said he'd be calling me a lot because he had to have my grandson," Wagner said.
"Another (friend) watched him play in Colorado and sent me a text that said, 'Are you sure that he's going to college?'"
Get this: Some of this hype started before D.J. Wagner, 14, went to Colorado Springs last month as the youngest of the 70 or so high school players at the USA Basketball training camp and started outplaying the 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds who surrounded him.
"He just turned 14 in May," Milt Wagner said. "Everybody told me he didn't play like a 14-year-old. He was out there with the cream of the crop (in the upcoming sophomore, junior and senior classes) and he looked like he could play with any of them. He's not afraid."
Milt Wagner was not in Colorado Springs. He has a job working in business development with a printing company in Louisville, where he has lived since leaving Auburn, where he was an assistant coach from 2010-14. But he saw his grandson play on the Nike EYBL circuit this spring and summer.
Milt understands why one recruiting site ranked D.J. the No. 6 prospect in the Class of 2023.
Then it got crazier: Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports wrote a story about D.J., teasing it with the headline that this high school freshman was on track to make the Wagners the first family to produce back-to-back-to-back generations of NBA players.
It began with Milt, who established the Camden (N.J.) Connection to Louisville, brought the 1986 NCAA title to town and then played 53 games with the Lakers and Heat before enjoying a solid professional career overseas.
He was followed by his son, Dajuan, a dynamic point guard who scored more than 3,400 points for Camden High and played one season for John Calipari at Memphis. The Cleveland Cavaliers selected him with the sixth overall pick of the 2002 NBA Draft. A series of serious health issues stopped Dajuan's NBA career after 103 games.
Next up is D.J., a prodigy who Milt has been telling me about for at least three years, starting with YouTube videos that showed D.J. running up and down a football field for touchdown after touchdown.
I watched D.J. play in an AAU event at Jeffersontown two years ago and left convinced that his talent was genuine. But this summer the basketball world discovered this is more than the joy of a proud grandfather.
Thamel's story was packed with praise from coaches and recruiting analysts, who were dazzled by D.J.'s unflappable performance against older, stronger kids. D.J. told Thamel he was 6 feet 2 and 152 pounds. Milt said that he expected his grandson to grow to at least his height, which is 6-5.
Milt Wagner has said the same things about D.J. for years: His grandson plays with the best of his game as well as the best of Dajuan's game.
"He's long and lean and can shoot the ball, like me," Milt Wagner said. "But he's also got a really good handle and can get to the rim like this father.
"Plus, he's really smart. He's got all the grades. His mother (Syreeta Brittingham) is a registered nurse. She doesn't play around about the books."
Milt, of course, played on the 1981 McDonald's all-American team with Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing. Dajuan was a 2001 McDonald's all-American, the consensus third-ranked player in his class.
Milt said the Wagner are also on track to be the first family to produce three straight McDonald's all-Americans. But Milt said the credit should go back one more generation -- to his mother, Hazel.
"It all comes from her," Milt Wagner said. "My Dad (Milt Sr.) was only 5-7. He was a really good football player and a boxer. But my Mom was 5-9 and she was a basketball player."
Hazel Wagner grew up in Montezuma, Ga., a town of less than 3,500 that sits about 130 miles southeast of Atlanta in Macon County. Milt said when he was about 14 he and his friends grew weary of listening to his Mom tout her basketball skills. They challenged her to join them on a Camden playground.
"She showed me and all of my friends that she could play," Milt Wagner said. "She took care of all of us. My Mom was definitely the real deal."
So was Milt. So was Dajuan. And, as the folks with USA Basketball learned this summer, so is D.J.
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