One mystery college basketball coach stirred up a resting Big Blue Nation with his comments about Ashton Hagans in Sam Vecenie’s “2020 NBA Draft College Coaches Poll: What to make of Kentucky’s prospects?” over at The Athletic. Someone who coached against Kentucky last season told Vecenie, “Don’t even get me started on Hagans. I think he’s trash.”
Here, read the whole quote on Hagans from the collection of scouting reports on UK’s NBA draft entrants:
“Don’t even get me started on Hagans. I think he’s trash (as a player). I just don’t think he’s very good. I think he thinks he’s a lot better than what he is. Defensively, everyone talks about him. And on film, he for sure disrupts. He has quick hands, he’s strong, he fights through dribble hand-offs, he puts a body on you. But like, it’s kind of overstated. I think he’s a selfish defender. He wants deflections and steals. And that has nothing to do with being a good defensive player. I think he’s a selfish defensive player.
“And offensively, he’s limited. I didn’t see that much athleticism and speed. We were begging him to shoot. I don’t know if he’s going to make it. What does he do? What does he do well? He got in trouble with turnovers this year. He was turning that thing over like crazy. He did not scare me at all. Preparing for them, he was the least of my worries. I think Saben Lee at Vanderbilt is way better than Ashton Hagans.” [The Athletic]
The rules of Vecenie’s exercise keep all coaches’ comments anonymous, so this slanderer of Hagans’ good name could be anyone walking amongst us (if we’re walking amongst people who coached against Kentucky last season). It could be a head coach, it could be an assistant coach. It could be an SEC coach, probably is an SEC coach, but could also be Walter McCarty (highly unlikely) or Chris Briggs from Georgetown College (also high unlikely).
Whoever it is, to say Ashton Hagans is trash is their own personal opinion and we will respect it. I think their trash ass point guard is trash and should get picked first in the trash draft, which I too am allowed to believe and say, and hope they will respect in return.
KSR is only launching this investigation because there is absolutely nothing else going on and, as the slogan goes, “in the most ridiculous manner possible.”
With that, after a day-long investigation, I introduce to you our Persons of Interest. People of Interest? Persons of Interest. How do you say that? I feel like they say Persons of Interest on the news. A list of our Person of Interestes.
These are the suspects…
[Head Coaches File]
Before we get to our head coaches on our suspects list, let’s make the obvious eliminations from the pool:
— Jerry Stackhouse, no. No chance Stackhouse has time to play this game.
— You think Frank Martin is doing this? Hell no. Frank Martin came up in the streets of Miami back when if you had a problem with someone, you said it to their face. Frank Martin was shot at while working as a bouncer at a nightclub, you think Frank Martin is calling a 19-year-old “trash” for someone’s amusement on the internet? Only when Frank Martin looks Ashton Hagans in the eyes and calls him trash, will Frank Martin call Ashton Hagans trash.
— Will Wade’s phone is still tapped. Too risky to bring him in. He’s out too.
— Rick Barnes, no. Not unless the questions are about Penny and Memphis. He definitely isn’t saying anything bad about one of Calipari’s players.
But THESE GUYS I can absolutely see doing it…
Tom Crean and John Calipari want us to believe they are friends. They play up the friendship whenever their teams meet, but don’t fall for it. They’re not hanging out on the weekends. They don’t have a snap streak during quarantine. I bet Tom doesn’t even know John’s favorite TV show. (It’s one of the ones about Alaska.)
Remember, Crean’s Indiana all but changed the city’s name from Bloomington, Indiana to Hey Remember When We Beat Kentucky, Indiana. Crean’s Hoosiers sent Calipari’s Cats home from the NCAA Tournament in the tournament’s first weekend in 2016, the only time that has happened since Cal’s been at Kentucky.
Every other time Crean and Cal have met, Cal’s won, including in the rematch in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Cal also took Ashton Hagans, our victim, from Tom Crean once Crean became Georgia’s head coach. Hagans was committed to UGA and all set to stay home to play for his home state Georgia Bulldogs, then Crean took the Georgia job, Hagans met him and was like nope, then Hagans left Crean for Calipari.
WE HAVE A MOTIVE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
But Hagans always played well against Georgia, so not exactly trash in front of Crean.
Nate Oats (he coaches at Alabama)
I love Nate Oats as one of the coaches that would speak anonymously to Sam Vecenie. If we’re setting Vegas odds he is probably the favorite among the head coaches in the conference. I get big “Yeah I’d love to do an interview under the condition of anonymity with you” vibes from Nate Oats, especially considering (a) he’s a new coach at this level and (b) he is the basketball coach at Nick Saban’s school. Of course he wants a good relationship with national sportswriters. Guy needs to build all the relationships he can to build that Nate Oats brand.
Oats will run his mouth a little bit too. It wasn’t too long ago when Nate Oats, head coach of the Buffalo Bulls, called out John Calipari for “whining.” Remember that? Calipari did not like Oats’ comments.
So it’s easy to see Oats talking a little smack in an anonymous questionnaire and I believe he is a very probable suspect as a participant in this survey. But the negative stuff about Hagans? When we run the numbers from UK’s only game against Alabama, Hagans had 15 points, nine assists and nine rebounds, a near triple-double.
Eric Musselman (he coaches at Arkansas)
Also putting out big “Yeah of course I’ll talk about other coaches’ players anonymously” vibes, Eric Musselman. Like Oats, he’s one of the new guys in the league, happy to be in the club and very friendly with the media. I mean, the guy just made a video to talk trash to Barstool Big Cat about Big Cat’s online video game career. You think he can find a few minutes to give his unfiltered thoughts about Kentucky basketball to a reporter? Of course he can.
— Eric Musselman (@EricPMusselman) July 15, 2020
But as is the case with the other head coaches on this list, the evidence doesn’t add up to pin the “trash” on Musselman. The other stuff, maybe, but Hagans played well in Kentucky’s big win at Arkansas, so it’s hard to imagine Musselman calling him trash. He’s still a suspect for the other anonymous comments but unlikely our big fish here.
[Assistant Coaches File]
Now we turn to the coaches behind the coaches, easy targets for a quick interview when you can’t get the head coach. Two come to mind (mostly because I can’t name other assistants) as People/Persons of Interest:
Someone at Auburn (Steven Pearl?)
As I sit here with evidence scattered all across my desk, files my partner and I have been staring over for 24 hours straight, the findings keep pointing toward Auburn. Someone at Auburn is involved in this. If Netflix has taught us anything it’s that the evidence tells the true story. And the evidence points to Auburn.
Exhibit A: In the scouting report for Nick Richards, an anonymous coach questioned Richards’ heart. “Our guys took it to him and took his heart out of his chest,” this person said. Sounds like the first Auburn game. That’s the exact scouting report on Nick Richards when Kentucky lost at Auburn, then he stayed in foul trouble in the second meeting in Rupp Arena. Richards only had a few bad games all year and two of them were against Auburn. (Could also be Ohio State or Utah or… Evansville.)
Exhibit B: Regarding Immanuel Quickley, a coach said, “I think he benefitted from poor officiating in the way he got fouled and sent to the line.” Quickley hit 20 of 21 free throws in the two Auburn games.
Exhibit C: (our smoking gun): Trash. Hagans played bad in both games against Auburn, maybe his two worst games all year. For a coach to call Hagans trash, the culprit being an Auburn coach makes sense.
Exhibit D (our other smoking gun): The coach also said, “I think Saben Lee at Vanderbilt is way better than Ashton Hagans.” Again, the evidence, the cold hard facts, tell us Saben Lee set a new career-high with 27 points at… Auburn.
But who? Bruce Pearl can’t do it. Snitching got him in trouble early in his career and he wants the Kentucky job too bad to get caught. Would Steven Pearl do it? He’s an easy suspect, but he too plays nice around Kentucky.
Don’t listen to the outside noise. Your father is an absolute legend in this profession, one of the best to ever do it. Gracious in victory and defeat….nothing but love and respect for your family
— Steven Pearl (@StevenPearl22) April 1, 2019
Maybe it was that guy whose daughter almost married the Bachelor. Or maybe it was…
Luke Murray, Louisville
Louisville is always to blame for something. Why’s now any different?
Last I checked Chris Mack is still playing the nice guy game and selling Planet Fitness memberships on billboards, but the whispers have always said to give it a little more time and we’ll see the real Mack. For now I think he’s above something like this, but a Louisville assistant would absolutely welcome the opportunity to trash anything Kentucky.
Dino Gaudio wouldn’t dare. He and Cal came up together under the old guard. But Luke Murray, Mack’s longtime assistant, his photo is push-pinned to our suspect board. He already convinced Bill Murray to be a Louisville fan so the man is truly capable of anything. And if this were a two-part TV series, the music would be picking up right now and we’d fade out of this episode with a clip of Luke Murray’s Twitter page where he follows only 58 people and one of them, the second most recent person he followed, is…
(Now hit play on this YouTube clip of 10 minutes of mystery music for dramatic effect.)