Ashton Hagans is on UK’s campus as a Wildcat and that’s all that matters, but it didn’t always seem like that was going to be the case. Hagans always considered Kentucky his dream school but seven months ago the Cats weren’t overly interested in the 6-foot-4, 185-pound point guard. At least not for the 2018 class.
Because of eligibility concerns for the 2018-2019 high school season Hagans had been considering reclassifying long before the start of his junior season. The eligibility concerns weren’t because of grades or academic reasons, but instead because of how much high school basketball Hagans had already played before being in ninth grade. For this reason it was clear that Hagans was going to make the jump to the class of 2018 but that wasn’t great news for his dreams of playing at Kentucky.
UK had Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Quade Green and Jemarl Baker as freshmen guards for the 2017-2018 season and back in November and December it didn’t appear any would be one-and-done players. UK also had Immanuel Quickley and Tyler Herro committed. With all those bodies in the backcourt there wasn’t a need for another guard for the 2018-2019 season. UK’s staff knew Hagans was good, but needed to evaluate him more before feeling comfortable in Hagans leading UK in 2019-2020. The idea of Hagans coming in for 2018-2019 wasn’t on UK’s radar back in November and December.
I’m told that UK basically told Hagans as much; if he wanted to come to Kentucky it wouldn’t be for the 2018-2019 season, but if he stayed in the class of 2019 the Cats would continue to monitor his game and offer could come in the future.
Weeks later Ashton Hagans committed to Georgia after unofficially visiting in the middle of December. While Kentucky was always Hagans’ dream school he was set on playing in 2018-2019 and if he couldn’t go to UK staying home was the next option. Hagans would visit Georgia as a commitment a couple more times before it was clear Georgia would move on from Mark Fox at the end of the season.
Hagans reopened his recruitment on Feb. 26th.
It was clear by that time that SGA would be heading to the pros. The Cats didn’t need to land another guard but UK’s backcourt was missing another explosive athlete. It also didn’t hurt that Hagans blew up his junior season. He averaged 20.2 points, 10.7 assists, 7.6 rebounds and 3.6 steals per game. He showcased himself as one of the best passing point guards in the country and demonstrated an ability to get into the paint as well as any other player in the country regardless of class.
UK reached back out to Hagans to see if he was still interested after both sides cooled just a couple months ago. After a visit from John Calipari in early April Hagans committed just days later and the Cats landed their explosive guard for the 2018-2019 season. As improbable as it may have seemed in December recruitments can always change.
It should serve as a reminder while UK loves James Wiseman, Vernon Carey, Keion Brooks, Matthew Hurt, Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine, there will be some new names in the coming months. Heck, maybe it will be eight or 10 months. Calipari has a knack for late additions. UK’s staff will always want the best players available, so keep an eye on potential new names moving forward. For example, say Jaden McDaniels.
Also, a lot of players would turn down a school after previously be told no. UK never disliked Hagans, but it didn’t appear there would be an available spot. Hagans didn’t hold that against UK’s staff. That’s pretty mature from a teenager.