From the time he first announced his return to Kentucky this offseason, the Big Blue Nation has been downright giddy about what we might see out of Wildcat point guard Ashton Hagans in his second year.
And this afternoon, the 6-foot-3 sophomore didn’t do much to temper those expectations.
In our first media opportunity with Kentucky’s four key returning players today, Hagans was asked about his early thoughts on his new partner in the backcourt, Tyrese Maxey, and just how good they can be together this season.
Not only does Hagans believe they can be good together, he actually believes that the Kentucky backcourt this year just might be the best of the John Calipari era in Lexington.
“[Tyrese Maxey] is a really good guard,” he said. “He’s going to be a nice guard to play with. We’re going to have some great memories on the court. Might be one of the best backcourts you all ever see, but we’re going to have to see.”
Maxey, a consensus five-star, top-15 prospect out of high school, certainly comes to Lexington with high expectations, as well. The 6-foot-4 freshman is considered one of the best shooters in the class of 2020, scores the ball with ease, and takes pride in being an elite defender.
While there is a ton to look forward to when it comes to Maxey, that last aspect of his game is what excites Hagans the most. If his new teammate loves playing defense just as much as he does, Hagans believes it’s going to be a “scary sight” for the opposition this season.
“Tyrese does a lot with his game and I feel like I can do the same,” he said. “He plays defense so that’s something that’s going to be a scary sight for other teams. We’re just ready to go out there and play with each other.”
But does Hagans really believe they’ll be one of the best backcourt pairings not only in the nation, but the most impressive we’ve seen in the 11 years John Calipari has been in Lexington? One potentially better than John Wall and Eric Bledsoe in 2009-10, Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray in 2015-16, and De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk in 2016-17?
But it won’t be just because of him and Maxey. With Immanuel Quickley back for a sophomore season and Johnny Juzang making his way from California in the coming weeks, Hagans is extremely confident that the Wildcats have four elite pieces making up the backcourt.
“We’re going to see,” Hagans said with a laugh. “We’re just going to have to see. Tyrese, he’s a really nice guard. We’ve got Immanuel back. We’ve got some other guards. Johnny, hopefully, we’ll get him in a couple of weeks.”
Outside of the backcourt, the Kentucky sophomore says that with Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery both withdrawing from the NBA Draft, along with all of the other strong pieces they have lining the roster, this team has the opportunity to be “special.”
“Nick’s a lot better. Same thing with EJ,” he said. “I think talent wise, I think we’ve just got pieces so I think we’re going to do something real special.”
With all of the talent coming back and just how deep they are across the board, Hagans wants fans to prepare themselves for the 2019-20 season.
“We’re back here for year two and I just want y’all to see what’s coming up in year two,” he said.
And what might that be?
“You’re just going to have to wait and see…”