You thought Kentucky football was the only UK athletic program with a National Defensive Player of the Year-caliber player? Think again.
The Atlanta Tipoff Club released their midseason watch list for National Defensive Player of the Year, and Kentucky point guard Ashton Hagans made the cut.
We've known @H23Ash is one of the best defenders in the country for a while but everyone else is now starting to notice. Hagans is on the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year national watch list. Semifinalists will be announced in February.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 22, 2019
The 6-foot-3 point guard out of Cartersville, GA is just one of 15 players included on the list, one of two freshmen (Zion Williamson, Duke), and one of two SEC representatives (Grant Williams, Tennessee).
Averaging 2.3 steals per contest, Hagans is ranked No. 2 in the SEC overall and No. 3 nationally among all freshmen. In players averaging 25 minutes or less per game, Hagans leads the country in steals per game among freshmen.
When you break down the advanced numbers, the Kentucky star point guard’s performances look even more spectacular. On the season, his steal rate per 40 minutes is 3.7, while that number over his last seven games has skyrocketed to 5.3 steals per game.
To take it a step further, Hagans is the first player in Kentucky basketball history with at least three steals in seven consecutive games, including an eight-steal outing against North Carolina on December 22.
The National Defensive Player of the Year award finalists will be announced in February, and it’s almost a certainty the Wildcat point guard will find his way on that list.