Ashton Hagans is a Wildcat but there’s uncertainties surrounding his game, when he will be in Lexington and how he will mesh with the current roster if he moves to 2018. Let’s talk about what Hagans’ commitment to UK means moving forward.
His game: As a 6-foot-4, 190-pound point guard you really can’t ask for a better build or frame for a Calipari guard. Calipari had success with Tyler Ulis and Quade Green did plenty of good things his freshman season, but the Cats prefer long and athletic guards. Hagans fits that mold perfectly. Remember, John Wall was a 6-foot-4, 184-pound guard when he arrived at Kentucky. Only Andrew Harrison was taller/bigger as a point guard as a recruit, but Hagans is significantly quicker and more athletic than Harrison.
So, he passes the paper test. On paper he’s everything Calipari wants in a point guard and he’s likely going to put on more muscle, become faster and who knows if he’s done growing because he’s just a junior in high school.
But, does his skill set match? The quick answer is yes. Hagans will be able to contribute in a variety of ways but he is seemingly exactly what the 2018-2019 team will need. Hamidou Diallo will likely leave and the Cats need an athletic freak that can get out in transition. Hagans will be UK’s most athletic player next season and if you pair him with Keldon Johnson then the style of play will look more similar to what Calipari is used to regarding speed and bounce on the floor.
One of the great things about Hagans is it gives Calipari more options. He can have an athletic lineup and he can have a shooting lineup (that likely wouldn’t feature Hagans). If teams want to run against UK then Hagans will feast. If teams want to slow things down the Cats will have options, too.
Hagans is a guard that loves to run and while his shot needs work he can get to the rim and is great a finishing through contact. If the Cats wanted to run things through Hagans next season (unlikely) he could live at the free throw line.
But Hagans best trait may be his defense. He’s a tough defender, he takes pride on that end of the floor and he loves getting in the head of the guy he’s guarding. He talks trash. He’s an emotional player and he’s going to frustrate the hell out of opposing teams. It’s similar to Keldon Johnson’s game in that regard. This UK team is going to frustrate the hell out of opposing teams.
When will he be in Lexington? I spoke with Hagans’ AAU (Chris Williams) coach on Kentucky Roll Call earlier this morning and he was adamant that Hagans is currently still a 2019 player and while that may change it’s not guaranteed.
Eh, unless something goes horribly wrong he will be in 2018. I understand Hagans and people close to him want to cover their tracks if something happens, but the plan has been for months for him to jump to 2018 and that hasn’t changed. UK expects him on next year’s roster and I wouldn’t worry about him staying in 2019.
I was even told in a worst case scenario situation that he could join for the second semester, but I’d be shocked if that happened.
Chris Williams said it may be until July for final word, but that’s OK with UK. As long as he’s ready for the Bahamas trip he should be ready to rock and roll in November. Now, if he can’t make it for the Bahamas trip then I still wouldn’t worry for the season but Hagans would be behind his teammates when the season starts, which would impact his playing time.
Williams also said Hagans will play AAU ball this summer on the adidas Circuit. That’s better than him sitting around all summer doing nothing. It also will provide UK fans with a chance to see him this summer.
— ashton hagans (@H23Ash) April 10, 2018
How he meshes: I’ve already touched on it but it’s a beautiful piece to add if you’re Calipari. UK can play fast with Hagans or they can slow things down with other guards. They can fill the floor with slashers that attack the rim or spread things out with shooters and one penetrating guard. Calipari will basically be able to do whatever he wants with his backcourt with the addition of Hagans.
But one thing that hasn’t been mentioned is how well respected Hagans is as a teammate and how coachable he will be for Calipari. Hagans is loud on the court and that’s something you want from a point guard, but seeing him play last summer it was eye-opening how unselfish he was with his teammates. It’s AAU basketball. It’s known for one-on-one basketball and hero ball. That’s somewhat a false narrative about AAU basketball but Hagans completely shatters that label.
Hagans played on a talented team but he was clearly “the guy”. While he will need to improve on his shooting and his shot selection, I rarely (if ever) saw him bypass an open player to take a contested shot. That was in AAU basketball. At UK he may be surrounded with shooters like Tyler Herro, Immanuel Quickley and Jemarl Baker. Down low he may be able to dish it off to P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, E.J. Montgomery and Nick Richards. A player that is a great passer having those weapons just isn’t fair.
That’s one area where Calipari doesn’t receive a lot of credit- one thing that can derail a fun season is locker room drama. It’s impossible to predict exactly how players will mesh but Hagans shouldn’t be a problem.