Over the past month, Ashton Hagans has come into his own as Kentucky’s starting point guard and arguably, one of the best defenders of the John Calipari era. Hagans turned in a career-high 18 points tonight along with four assists and five steals, his third game scoring in double digits.
Hagans’ progress on offense is promising — especially after he missed so many layups at Alabama — but defense continues to be his calling card. After the game, Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said Hagans is the best defensive point guard his team has faced this year.
“We want to make him shoot perimeter shots and to his credit, he does a great job of taking up space. Defensively, he’s probably the best defensive point guard we’ve played against this year. He’s just so active on the ball and does a good job running their offense. We wanted to go under ball screens and he did a good job of making good decisions of knowing when to attack and when not to.”
Over the last four games, Hagans has 19 steals. What makes him such a good defender?
“He anticipates,” John Calipari said. “He’s not going to — we have guys that when their man catches it, they start playing. He’s playing before his man catches it and if he sees an opportunity to go after a ball, he does. If he sees an opportunity to deny his man the ball, his man doesn’t get the ball. If some other guys deny the ball, at some point, they’ll let go and the guy will catch it. He just says, you are not catching it until they throw it to someone else.”