By LARRY VAUGHT
When I heard that Iowa junior basketball player Ahmad Wagner was transferring to Kentucky, I was stunned.
The 6-7 Wagner averaged just 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds per game last season while starting seven games. In 96 career games, he had 297 points and 252 rebounds. Those are not exactly the numbers that a John Calipari transfer would be expected to have.
Then I found out he was transferring to Kentucky to play FOOTBALL. He only played one year of football at Wayne County High School in Ohio but had 1,028 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns. He had a scholarship offer from UK football then that he turned down.
Here was his official announcement on Twitter: “First off I would like to thank God for the blessing and opportunity he has put in front of me. With that being said after much thought and consideration from my family I will be furthering my academic and athletic career at the University of Kentucky! #BBN”
Wagner, who also ran track in high school, should have two years of eligibility at Kentucky since players have five seasons to compete in two sports if they chose. If he’s a graduate transfer as rumored, he would be eligible to play this season as well as 2019 because that would still be just two years of football in his five-year eligibility window.
“Ahmad has been a tremendous teammate and an absolute joy to coach the past three seasons,” Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery said in a news release. “Ahmad has a unique blend of athleticism and strength to go along with a tremendous work ethic.
“I have no doubt that he will be successful in his pursuit of playing football. I am excited for his future and wish him nothing but the best.”
Can he help Kentucky? Maybe. Maybe not. But a 6-7 receiver with maturity and experience — why not roll the dice and take a chance. It’s creative work by Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow and if it works, it will be terrific.