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D.J. Wagner continues 5-star exodus from Kentucky; Zvonimir Ivišić following John Calipari to Arkansas

In Sports
April 16, 2024

Mark Pope has some significant work to do to rebuild Kentucky‘s roster.

Freshman point guard D.J. Wagner entered the transfer portal Monday, according to multiple reports, continuing an exodus of five-star talent from Lexington in the aftermath of head coach John Calipari’s departure for Arkansas.

Later Monday, Zvonimir Ivišić announced on Instagram that he was leaving Kentucky to follow Calipari to Arkansas. A 7-foot-2 freshman, the Croatian center with NBA upside initially entered his name in the transfer portal over the weekend.

Wagner joined the Wildcats last season as a McDonald’s All American and top-10 recruit. He was projected as a potential one-and-done prospect, but will likely remain in college after a disappointing freshman campaign failed to cement his status as an NBA prospect.

He was the latest Wildcat to enter the transfer portal alongside a handful of incoming freshmen who have re-opened their recruitment. Freshman forward Aaron Bradshaw — a fellow five-star recruit and Wagner’s high school teammate — previously entered the transfer portal and committed to Ohio State.

D.J. Wagner and Zvonimir Ivišić are leaving Kentucky. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

D.J. Wagner and Zvonimir Ivišić are leaving Kentucky. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Ivišić made his announcement after meeting earlier Monday with Pope, who was introduced as Kentucky’s new head coach on Sunday.

“Today I met with Coach Pope and had a great meeting with him,” Ivišić wrote. “He’s an amazing guy and a great coach and he will do big things here! After our conversation I informed him that I will not be returning to Kentucky. …

“I made the lifetime decision to come to college for few reasons. Main ones to win a national championship and go to the NBA. Monumental part of that decision was coach Cal, and no one does both of those at the same time than him. That’s why I am excited to announce that I am committing to coach Cal and Arkansas Razorbacks!”

Wagner, Bradshaw and Ivišić were a significant part of Calipari’s top-ranked 2023 recruiting class that projects to lose two other players to the NBA. Fellow freshman Rob Dillingham has declared for the NBA Draft while Reed Sheppard — a projected lottery pick — has yet to make a decision.

Meanwhile, four incoming freshmen have reportedly re-opened their recruitment since Calipari’s departure. Somto Cyril, Karter Knox, Boogie Fland and Jayden Quaintance have all reportedly de-committed from Kentucky in the past week. Fland, Knox and Quaintance are all five-star prospects, according to Rivals. Cyril is a four-star prospect.

The news of Ivišić’s transfer and Wagner’s expected departure arrives a day after Pope was officially introduced as Kentucky’s head coach. The former BYU coach who played at Kentucky and captained its 1996 national championship team was greeted by thousands of Wildcats fans at a raucous introductory news conference at Rupp Arena on Sunday. His first order of business will be to retool a Kentucky roster that has significantly less talent than it did this time last week.

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