Some of the best young basketball players in the United States, including recruits coveted by both the Louisville Cardinals and Kentucky Wildcats, are bound for southern Spain to represent their country on a global stage.
The 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup begins Saturday and runs through July 10 in Malaga, Spain. Team USA is vying for its sixth consecutive gold medal in the tournament and will play its first game at 2:45 pm EDT against Lebanon.
Group play wraps up July 5, and the Round of 16 will follow on July 6.
The US is led by a group of 2023 and 2024 prospects who have piqued the interests of U of L head coach Kenny Payne and UK’s John Calipari. Multiple outlets have reported that Calipari and Louisville assistant coach Nolan Smith will be making the trek across the Atlantic Ocean to watch the recruits compete against the world’s best.
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Both Calipari and Smith will have their eyes on DJ Wagner, a 6-foot-3 guard who is the No. 1 prospect on 247Sports’ composite rankings of the 2023 class.
Wagner is in the middle of a recruiting battle between the Cardinals and Wildcats that crosses family ties. His grandfather, Milt Wagner, played with Payne at Louisville in the 1980s and was hired to the U of L staff in May. His father, Dajuan Wagner, played under Calipari at Memphis from 2001-02 before jumping to the NBA as a lottery pick.
Which way is Wagner leaning in his recruitment? The South Jersey native isn’t saying. Louisville has clearly gained momentum since hiring Payne back in March, and the Cardinals made that known when more than a handful of former players showed up to watch Wagner and his AAU team play at a Nike-sponsored EYBL session over Memorial Day Weekend at the Kentucky Exhibition Center.
On June 24, Jamie Shaw with On3 reported that “intel from around the situation says the Wagner recruitment has been done for a few weeks,” with Louisville leading the way.
“The family’s trust in head coach Kenny Payne is what got the job done,” Shaw wrote.
If that is the case, Calipari’s journey to Spain to watch Wagner could be an attempt to gain some ground on Payne, his former assistant, before the top prospect announces his college decision.
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Wagner will take the court for Team USA alongside Ron Holland, another five-star 2023 prospect who could potentially become either his future teammate or rival. A 6-foot-8, 195-pound power forward, Holland on Wednesday listed Kentucky among his five finalistswhich also includes Arkansas, Texas, UCLA and the NBA’s G-League.
Holland is looking to add another gold medal to his trophy collection after helping the US win the 2021 FIBA U16 Americas Championship in Xalapa, Mexico, with new UK basketball commit Robert Dillingham. Another member of that team was five-star 2024 prospect Ian Jackson, who is suiting up again for his country in Spain.
The No. 1 shooting guard and No. 2 overall talent in the 2024 class, Jackson received a scholarship offer from Kentucky on June 15, the first day college coaches were permitted to contact rising high school juniors. Calipari also extended an offer that day to Karter Knox, the younger brother of former UK standout and NBA lottery pick Kevin Knox.
The younger Knox is a 6-foot-5, 180-pound small forward who ranks 10th overall on 247Sports’ composite rankings of the 2024 class. Louisville offered Knox a scholarship back in late May, with Payne hoping to capitalize on his relationship with the prospect’s brother, whom he helped coach with Calipari during the 2017-18 season.
Here’s a look at the rest of Team USA’s roster and info on how to livestream the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup:
USA Basketball’s roster for the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup
- David Castillo (2024)
- Dennis Evans III (2023)
- Jeremy Fears Jr. (2023)
- Cooper Flagg (2025)
- Johnuel “Boogie” Fland (2024)
- Rum Holland (2023)
- Ian Jackson (2024)
- Karter Knox (2024)
- Asa Newell (2024)
- Koa Peat (2025)
- SeanStewart (2023)
- DJ Wagner (2023)
How to watch USA Basketball in 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup on livestream
All game times are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
Gold Medal Game (vs. Spain)
When: 3 p.m. Sunday, July 10
Where: Malaga, Spain
Online live stream: https://www.youtube.com/FIBA
Reach recruiting reporter Brooks Holton at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @brooksHolton.