Known around his neighborhood as the Messiah (he has the nickname tattooed on his left biceps), Wagner was one of only a handful of soon-to-be juniors invited to last week's Nike camp in Indianapolis. There the 6'3", 180-pound guard scored 50 points in one game with his repertoire of powerful drives and rainbow treys. His eventual college destination may well be decided in a classic bluegrass blood feud. Camden High is a traditional pipeline to Louisville, having sent Milt Wagner, Billy Thompson, Kevin Walls and current Cardinals star Nate Johnson, but DaJuan was suspicious last season when Louisville announced plans to retire his father's jersey. "The timing didn't seem right to me," DaJuan says. "I asked my dad, 'Why do you think they want to retire your jersey now when you finished playing 13 years ago?' "
Meanwhile, Kentucky is reportedly courting one of Wagner's Camden teammates, 6'6" senior forward Arthur Barclay, who has lived with DaJuan and DaJuan's mother, Lisa Moore (she and Milt never married), for the last four years. Barclay, who considers DaJuan a brother, is a cousin of Art and Valerie Still, who starred at Kentucky in football and basketball, respectively. The Wildcats may be angling to land Barclay—a relatively marginal prospect who averaged 18 points and 14 rebounds at Camden last season—in hopes of getting Wagner in a kind of package deal. Wagner says he will follow Barclay wherever his friend goes to school.
"If DaJuan picks Kentucky, I may not be allowed back at Louisville," says Milt, who played in Europe and Israel for the last nine seasons but recently retired to follow his son's career. "DaJuan has Louisville in his heart, but he's his own man, and he'll go to school wherever he wants to go."
A Minimum Age in the NBA?
College Coaches Sound Off
Are we headed toward a day when basketball players will be carded before they can enter the NBA? Last week the league's commissioner, David Stem, floated a proposal that would establish 20 as a minimum age for players. The idea was a hot topic among coaches at the major summer camps last week. "I believe the NBA has finally gotten its wake-up call," says Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins. "These days, the minute any high school kid has a good game, he starts thinking about declaring for the NBA. The league needs to give these kids a game plan so they can all just relax."
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun supports the idea but would like to see the NBA take it a step further, to age 21 or the completion of a player's junior season in college. "There are 3,000 kids playing college basketball each season, and maybe 50 of them will make the NBA," says Calhoun. "Most kids just aren't as good as they think they are." He thinks that the longer kids stay in school, the better the chance they'll face the reality that they're not going to the pros and will instead stay and get their degrees.
Any new rule would require approval from the NBA players' association. At a union meeting last week in the Bahamas, a group of player reps said they would not support the minimum-age plan. But that stand may be subject to negotiation.
While most of the high school stars at the camps were against a minimum age for NBA eligibility, and most coaches were for it, at least one coach sees Stern's proposal—and the underlying notion that teenage hoopsters need to be protected by such rules—in racial terms. "Why are people perpetuating these myths only about basketball players?" Temple's John Chaney says. "When black kids see these white high school dropouts in other sports like tennis or figure skating making millions of dollars before they turn 18, they'll ask themselves, Why is the NBA screwing us? David Stern's statement is stupid and asinine and perplexing, and the idea is the dumbest one I've heard in my life."