D. J. Wagner, widely regarded as one of the top freshman basketball players in the country, has enrolled in Big Picture Learning Academy in Camden, will which enable him to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and play basketball for Camden High.
Wagner’s mother, Syreeta Brittingham, confirmed Friday that her son has enrolled at Big Picture Learning Academy, which formerly was known as MetEast High School.
As a student at Big Picture, a magnet school open for grades 9-12 that is located in the city’s Parkside section, Wagner will be eligible to play basketball for Camden High.
Playing for the Panthers has been a long-time aspiration for D.J. Wagner. His father, Dajuan Wagner, scored a state-record 3,462 points as a 2001 Camden graduate. His grandfather, Milt Wagner, scored 2,003 points as a 1981 Camden graduate.
Dajuan Wagner led Camden to the Group 3 state title as well as the Tournament of Champions title in 2000. Milt Wagner won a Group 4 state title in 1979 and also won an NCAA title with Louisville in 1986 and an NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1988.
Dajuan Wagner also played in the NBA. He was the No. 6 overall pick by Cleveland in 2002 and averaged 13.4 points as a rookie before injuries and illness shortened his career.
D.J. Wagner, a 6-foot-2 guard who plays for the Philadelphia-based Team Final AAU program, was the youngest athlete invited to the USA Basketball junior national team training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., in July. He turned 14 in May while most of the 70 players at the event were entering their senior or junior year in high school.
Wagner was among the most talked-about players at the camp, according to Yahoo Sports.
“For a rising ninth-grader, he’s a great player in his own right,” Mike Jones, head coach of the USA Basketball under-16-17 junior national team, told Yahoo Sports. “I’m not going to say he’s going to be better [than his father and grandfather], but the kid is special.”
Camden projects as one of the top teams in the state this season and is expected to play a schedule studded with powerful opponents to showcase Wagner as well as senior Lance Ware, a 6-foot-9 forward who has an offer from Kentucky, among other top players.
Camden will be coached by former NBA player and coach Rick Brunson.
Camden is expected to play many of its home games at Rutgers-Camden while a new high school is constructed at the site of the old “Castle on the Hill” at the corner of Park Boulevard and Kaighns Avenue in Parkside. The new high school is expected to open for the 2021-22 school year.