All we can do in these summer months is wish it was August, so Kentucky football can get going, and speculate as to how good, or not so good, the Wildcat basketball team will be.
As it stands right now, John Calipari’s squad looks like a Final Four threat. If they can add Kerry Blackshear, Jr., who is visiting Lexington on Tuesday, then they’re undoubtedly the favorite to win the 2019-20 national championship.
However, the Cats aren’t the only team in the SEC with high hopes for next season. The conference will have arguably the most talent it’s ever had, including the addition of Blackshear to one these schools.
With that in mind, NCAA.com’s Andy Katz ranked the five most important players in the SEC for next season. And coming in at No. 1 was UK’s very own Ashton Hagans.
1. Ashton Hagans, 6-3, So., Kentucky: The Wildcats have a rare returning point guard and that’s why Kentucky is one of the teams projected to go on a Final Four run. Hagans emerged as the leader midway through the season and embraced the role. His numbers in all areas should increase, and as long as turnovers don’t as well, Kentucky will have the lead guard it needs to shepherd in another elite recruiting class.
There’s no question Hagans has the potential to be an incredible talent in his upcoming sophomore campaign. He seems to be working extremely hard this offseason and his maturity as a person and player will grow exponentially.
There are things Ashton needs to improve on, however. He needs to find a more consistent outside shot (while also getting his foot off the line). He has to be more explosive, slow down, and limit turnovers. And he needs to be better conditioned, which will, in turn, allow him to be more explosive and continue to be a menace on the defensive end of the court.
With that being said, Hagans is the starting point guard for the team with the best chance of winning the title next season in the SEC. The Gators are second, and could move into first with the addition of Blackshear, but I think that’s why Katz has Hagans so high on this list. Of course, it’s always important to be balanced in the frontcourt and backcourt, but in my opinion, point guard is the single most important position come March.
Now, if Blackshear does join the Cats or Gators, he’d probably take over the top spot. If he goes to Tennessee, Arkansas, or Texas A&M, he’d definitely make the list, but probably not No. 1 due to those team’s low probability of making any postseason noise.
As for the rest of the list, Florida’s Andrew Nembhard came in at No. 2, followed by Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, LSU’s Skylar Mays, and Auburn’s Austin Wiley.
You can check out Katz’s rankings here.