By LARRY VAUGHT
While most of us are still trying to get to know and evaluate just how good Georgia five-star guard Ashton Hagans is, Rivals.com writer Dan McDonald (@DMcDonaldRivals on Twitter) first met Hagans at the beginning of his high school freshman year.
“From our very first meeting, I’ve thought he was an incredibly mature kid. He’s very respectful, down to earth, and engaging,” McDonald said. “For a kid as highly recruited as him that always has people telling him how great he is, he’s very humble. He’s a really good kid and a really good teammate.”
Kentucky fans will likely find out just how good a teammate he can be next season. He’s still a junior but if all goes as planned, he will reclassify this summer after finishing additional classes and be part of Kentucky’s 2018 recruiting class along with Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro and E.J. Montgomery.
With as much as McDonald has watched Hagans play, he still noted recently how impressed he was with the way the point guard made “life so easy for teammates” during AAU play.
“He’s just such a good passer and such an unselfish player. He’s looking to generate offense for his teammates before he takes care of himself,” McDonald said. “And just as important, he has a weird ability to see plays develop before they actually happen.
“There isn’t really one thing he’s done lately to impress me more. He just continues to get better all the time and every team he’s on wins at a high level in large part because of him.”
That’s a trait Kentucky coach John Calipari — or any other coach — likes. It’s why Hagans, who turns 19 in July, is not afraid to join a roster that has returning guards Quade Green and Jemarl Baker along with the additions of Quickley, Herro and Johnson.
Hagans has the size and physicality to play at Kentucky next year. McDonald said he’s “definitely” ready physically if he does reclassify as expected.
“He’s definitely an elite defender. He’s really quick laterally and he’s scrappy and tough,” McDonald said. “He takes pride in locking down the other team’s primary ball handler, but I’ve also seen him switch off to a wing if it’s a player that’s giving his team problems. He’s a versatile defender because of his size.”
Hagans was originally a Georgia verbal commit before coach Mark Fox got fired and he re-opened his recruitment. It didn’t take long for Hagans — who said he watched John Wall and Isaiah Briscoe play at Kentucky — to say yes to Calipari.
In his blog for USA Today, Hagans wrote about playing against Quickley last summer and how they could “make a strong backcourt because we have different games” that will complement each other.
“I can honestly play with anyone. I know all of the players that come to Kentucky are really talented and I’m the kind of player that loves to feed those guys the ball in the perfect spots that they like it,” Hagans wrote in USA Today.
McDonald calls him a “refined” offensive player.
“His shot is still a work in progress, but he’s far from a liability there,” McDonald said. “He’s best at attacking the rim and then either setting up a team and making an athletic play in the paint for himself.”
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