By LARRY VAUGHT
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas thought Kentucky guard Ashton Hagans was one of the “best defenders” in the country last year as a freshman.
“Certainly I would put him among the two or three best on-ball defenders at the point guard position along with Tre Jones of Duke. He’s relentless,” Bilas said.
Hagans did not put his name into the NBA draft even to get feedback from NBA personnel. He knew quickly he wanted to stay at UK for a second season to improve his overall game, a move Bilas thinks was the right one for him and Kentucky.
“I think he can improve as a shooter. He needs to become a better perimeter shooter,” Bilas said. “I think he’s capable of improving there and improving his shot consistency. Another guy who is a very good player. Maybe I should be, but I was not surprised that he decided not to come out (in the draft).
“I think he’s got a ways to go to become more of a finished product. That’s not a knock on him. Look how well it went for PJ Washington at the same school. That’s certainly a very good blueprint.”
Former ESPN college basketball inside Andy Katz now writes for NCAA.com. He has Hagans as one fo the top five returning SEC players along with Andrew Nembhard of Florida, Skylar Mays of LSU, Austin Wiley of Auburn and Anthony Edwards of Georgia. Katz picked Hagans to be the SEC’s “breakout star” next season.
“Hagans emerged as the leader midway through the season and embraced the role,” Katz posted on NCAA.com. “His numbers in all areas should increase, and as long as turnovers don’t as well, Kentucky will have the lead guard it needs to shepherd in another elite recruiting class.”