UK recruits in running for prep POY award

Published 12:53 pm Friday, February 10, 2023

BY KEITH TAYLOR

Kentucky Today

Three future Kentucky players have been named finalists for the Naismith Trophy High School Player of the Year.

Aaron Bradshaw, Justin Edwards and D.J. Wagner are among 10 players who will be considered for the prestigious award presented by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

Bradshaw and Wagner, both five-star standouts, currently play for Camden High School in New Jersey. Wagner is averaging 21.5 points and Bradshaw is scoring 12.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Edwards plays at Philadelphia Imhotep Charter High School, considered one of the top programs in the nation.

Kentucky coach John Calipari called Bradshaw an “elite” post player on the defensive end of the floor.

“Aaron is elite at that,” he said. “He also has all of the tools that a versatile big in today’s game needs. Aaron’s motor continues to improve, he has great size and mobility. As a 7-footer, he can change the game on both ends of the court. He has a high ceiling and has only begun to scratch the surface of the kind of player he can be.”

Edwards also drew praise from the Kentucky coach, who said the future guard has “the ability to impact the game in a variety of ways.”

“He has terrific size, can play multiple positions and can score the ball at all three levels,” he said. “I really like how active he is defensively and his desire to rebound every ball. He already has a great understanding that he can positively impact winning without scoring. That isn’t something you can teach, and I know Justin is going to demand the same of his teammates.”

Wagner is the son of former Memphis standout Dajuan Wagner, who played for Calipari at Memphis. He’s the grandson of former Louisville star Milt Wagner. Calipari has known DJ his “entire life” and has “always wanted to coach him.”

“Above all he is a competitor,” the Kentucky coach said. “He attacks the offensive end and is a versatile scorer, but he is equally as tough on defense. I love the spirit he’ll bring to practice every day, and I love that he wanted to be at Kentucky. He knows that to get the best of himself, he needs to be surrounded by other talented players who are going to match his competitive energy.”

Ron Mercer won the prestigious award in 1995 following his senior season at Oak Hill Academy.