Big Ten hoops to SEC football: Ahmad Wagner commits to Kentucky

After three seasons playing basketball at Iowa, <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaab/players/131550/" data-ylk="slk:Ahmad Wagner">Ahmad Wagner</a> is headed to Kentucky to play football. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
After three seasons playing basketball at Iowa, Ahmad Wagner is headed to Kentucky to play football. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Ahmad Wagner has quite a transition ahead of him.

Wagner, who played three years as a forward on Iowa’s basketball team, announced Tuesday that he will transfer to Kentucky, where he will play football. Wagner, listed at 6-foot-7 and 235 pounds during his time on the hardwood, is expected to play wide receiver for the Wildcats.


Interestingly, according to Cats Illustrated, Wagner will have two years of eligibility remaining in football. And he’s immediately eligible. The site is reporting that when it was determined Wagner would have two years, not one, remaining, his recruitment really picked up.

Louisville, Cincinnati and Akron were among the other schools that had pursued Wagner. Iowa’s football coaches were making the case to him that he could stay on campus and play two years for Iowa, not sitting out the 2018 season. That was when it was believed he would have to sit out a year per standard transfer rules before regaining his final year of eligibility. But with the revelation that there is an exemption for Wagner’s circumstances, that made him a much more attractive recruit and, Cats Illustrated is told, Michigan, Michigan State and some other top Big Ten programs had reached out to express interest.

Wagner has not played football since his senior year at Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio. Back then, Kentucky offered him a scholarship even after he made a verbal commitment to play hoops at Iowa. Wagner played junior varsity as a junior before exploding into an all-state performer as a senior with 58 catches for 1,028 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Switching to football was something he considered then, but Wagner ultimately signed to play basketball for the Hawkeyes. Over three years, Wagner played in 96 games, including 25 starts, and averaged 3.1 points and 2.6 rebounds in 11.9 minutes per game.

The thought of returning to football loomed in the back of his mind and he finally decided to make the switch in March after basketball season ended.

“I never got rid of that feeling,” Wagner told Hawkeye Report. “I went out in my senior year and with the success that I had and the experience I had with those guys, I never really got rid of that feeling. I would watch football and the memories would come back. But, basketball was important to me and something that I committed to and I wanted to honor my commitment.”

The clip above shows how athletic Wagner is, but the transition back to football after several years away won’t be easy. But once Wagner gets back in the flow, he could prove to be an excellent addition for Mark Stoops’ team — especially in the red zone.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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