By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne is one of the most likeable — and honest — coaches I have ever been around. That’s why his comments are certainly so insightful when he gets the chance to talk with the media like he did Monday.
Payne said it was “vital” for freshman point guard Ashton Hagans to have played so well against Tennessee and senior Jordan Bone, the player many consider the best point guard in the SEC.
“We have been on him about being focused, being disciplined, being disruptive, and it’s hard. He’s never worked as hard as he has worked here. He’s never had to focus as much as he is having to focus here, and he is a freshman,” Payne said.
Now pay attention to what Payne said next
“There are times when he pouts; we have to address it,” Payne said. “There are times when he’s immature; we have to address it. But then there’s times when he is locked in, and that’s has been a big difference in our team. When he’s locked in, we are really good.”
What makes Hagans pout?
“Just when he doesn’t get what he wants – a normal 17-year-old, 18-year-old,” Payne said — and I would totally agree with his analysis of how a person that age might react.
Payne said Hagans mainly pouts on the court, but again it’s nothing typical kids don’t do.
“These kids all have pride, and so when they’re confronted for the first time or amongst their teammates, their peers, they get defensive. Ashton is no different and we have to address it,” Payne said.
Payne did tell Hagans he had revealed to media members that the player had been pouting.
“There’s not too much I can say about that. It happens sometimes when things don’t go your way. But you’re at a big boy stage right now, so you can’t be doing all of that. And that’s a lesson you have to learn from here on out and just move on,” Hagans said.
Hagans reclassified from the 2019 recruiting class to the 2018 recruiting class to be at UK this year. He says he’s matured this year being six hours away from his parents in Georgia.
“They’re not here, so I’ve got to keep my room clean, get up on time, get where I have to go, get to practice early. As it goes along, you’re just maturing,” Hagans said.
He said his father is on the “coaches’ side” about his pouting.
“So there’s not too much I can say about it. He tells me ‘that’s why you went there, you’re on a big-time stage. Just stay focused, they’re not here for no reason. Big-time coaches are going to make you do what have to do,'” Hagans said Monday.