Camden’s DJ Wagner and Aaron Bradshaw, along with Paul VI’s Hannah Hidalgo, were selected to participate in the McDonald’s All-American Games on March 28 in Houston.
Wagner is the third member of his family to be selected for the prestigious All-Star showcase, joining his father Dajuan (2001) and grandfather Milt (1981).
DJ Wagner and Bradshaw are the first South Jersey teammates selected for an exhibition game. Both players are five-star recruits who signed with Kentucky last year.
The 6-foot-3, 165-pound Wagner is a two-time Gatorade New Jersey and Courier-Post Player of the Year. The combo guard is averaging 20.5 points for the Panthers, who were 14-2 before Tuesday’s game. The 7-foot, 205-pound Bradshaw is averaging 12.8 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.
Also playing in the game will be Marlton native Elmark Jackson, who currently plays at South Kent High School in Connecticut. Jackson began his collegiate career at St. Augustine.
Hildalgo became the second girl in South Jersey history to play in the game. Mainland graduate Kylie Watson was selected in 2020, but the game was canceled due to the pandemic.
Hidalgo, a senior guard who committed to Notre Dame in November, is a two-time Courier Defensive Player of the Year. According to ESPN, she is the fifth-leading scorer in the class of 2023 and is fast approaching the 2,000 career scoring mark.
Hidalgo is averaging 31.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game for the Eagles, who are 14-1, this season. She scored a career-high 48 points in a 72-69 win over Westtown (Pa.) on Jan. 21.
The girls game will be televised on ESPN2 on March 28 at 6:30 p.m. The boys game will be televised on ESPN at 9 p.m.
∗ South Jersey had seven players play in the exhibition game – Camden’s Milt Wagner (1981), Camden’s Billy Thompson (1982), Camden’s Kevin Walls (1984), Atlantic City’s Bobby Martin (1987), Middle Township’s Lamar Greer (1994), Rancocas Valley’s Dan Miller (1998) and Camden’s DaJuan Wagner. St. Patrick’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who hailed from Somerdale, played in that game and was named one of the MVPs in 2011.
∗ Middle Township’s Ricky Harmon was selected as a substitute for the inaugural game in 1977.
∗ The Spectrum in Philadelphia hosted the second McDonald’s All American Game in 1978. It was the first game to use the East vs. West format. The 1987 match was also held at the venue.
∗ Seventeen players in the history of the McDonald’s All American game have been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, including Magic Johnson, who played in the first edition of the showcase.
∗ Shaquille O’Neal (1989), LeBron James (2003), Alonzo Mourning (1988), Kevin Garnett (1995) and Kevin Durant (2006) were among the NBA superstars who were named McDonald’s All American MVP.
∗ The Girls Game debuted in 2002 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Tom McGurk is a regional sports editor for theCourier-Post, The Daily Journal and the Burlington County Times, covering sports in South Jersey for more than 30 years. If you have a sports story to tell, contact him at (856) 486-2420 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @McGurkSports. Help support local journalism with a digital subscription.