D.J. Wagner's status for Saturday is still day to day because of the ankle injury he suffered against Miami. (Vicky Graff Photo)
Not having D.J. Wagner was not the reason Kentucky lost to UNC-Wilmington last week. However, not having the injured freshman point guard because of an ankle injury did certainly seem to impact the way UK played.
“You’re talking about a playmaker and a dude who attacks the basket very well, draws a lot of attention off pick-and-roll situations,” UK senior Tre Mitchell said about Wagner after the loss. “As well as he dogs the ball on defense. He presses the ball, and we had a lot of straight-line drives tonight and a lot of and ones.
“That could be one not guarding the ball and two we don’t have any help when we’re supposed to be there, me included. So, I mean DJ Wagner just brings another energy to the court. I feel like we were very dead tonight from an energy standpoint, and part of that falls back on me being a leader. I got to do better and more than just talking, be able to get guys excited and into it.”
SEC Network analyst Dane Bradshaw certainly appreciates the energy Wagner brings.
“I can’t say enough about Wagner. His motor never stops,” Bradshaw said. “Wagner is just different. He can get downhill with his right or left (hands). He is so ambidextrous and has confidence in both.
“This guy has had the same energy from jump ball to a 25-point lead. He does not play the scoreboard. He gives you the same energy all night.”
Kentucky plays Penn at noon Saturday in Philadelphia in what will be like a homecoming game for Wagner, Aaron Bradshaw and Justin Edwards.
“DJ was in the gym today doing stuff with his ankle. He’s day-to-day,” UK coach John Calipari said on his weekly radio show Monday. “Whether he plays Saturday, we won’t know for a while. He was in there watching, he’s getting treatment. I know he wants to play. It’s not swollen, but it’s black and blue.”