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Ashton Hagans asked to “step away” from Cats, not playing at Florida today

Tyrese Maxey (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

After a tumultuous outing Tuesday against Tennessee where he basically told coach John Calipari he didn’t want to go back in the game, sophomore point guard Ashton Hagans did not make the trip for today’s game at Florida.

Even though Kentucky coach John Calipari tried to downplay what happened during his pregame press conference on Friday and made no mention of Hagans not making the trip, there obviously is something major happening.

“Ashton did not make the trip with us to Florida,” Calipari tweeted Saturday before today’s game at Florida. “He and I met a couple days ago and he asked to step away for a couple days for personal reasons. I support his decision. We are going to need him at 100% for the postseason.”

So obviously Calipari knew all this Friday and chose to wait to probably limit the distraction even a little bit more. However, I wondered immediately what was going on Friday when freshman teammate Keion Brooks Jr. said the team still “supported” Hagans. That is not an ordinary answer when asked about a teammate’s struggles.

Calipari said on his pregame radio show he didn’t announce Hagans not playing to avoid having his teammates have to deal with it.

“It had nothing to do with them,” Calipari said.

There’s no indication — yet — that Hagans won’t be with the team at next week’s SEC Tournament. In fact, Hagans posted this on Twitter just a bit ago: “Let’s Get this Win Fellas!!! Love y’all boyssBe back & Better!!!”

Former UK All-American Rex Chapman said on the Kentucky Radio Network pregame coverage with Dave Baker that he didn’t think Hagans’ situation had to be a season-ending type disruption.

“Where is everybody that a week ago said we needed to lose a game? Now the sky is falling,” Chapman said. “We are going through some adversity. Ashton will be humbled by this but I hope our whole team learns from this. Ashton is not the only one learning.”

Hagans has not be a troublesome player. He’s played through injuries and if teammates have ever had a problem with him, it has been well hidden. I have thought from day one this team had terrific chemistry. Maybe it’s something non-basketball related bothering Hagans. Maybe he’s just worn down — remember a week ago Calipari had indicated that Hagans was not 100 percent physically and was considering trying to rest him in one of UK’s final two games.

Calipari said on the postgame radio show that he “hopes” Hagans is “ready to go” next week.

“This is about the health and the well being of these kids,” Calipari said. “He needed time to get his health and body right.”

Calipari said he’s dealt with this type issue before but never so late in the season.

“Again, if you care about kids and they are not right … and there’s all kind of reasons. Things these kids have to deal with. What is at stake for each of these kids was not the case 25 years ago. Players dealing with stuff college basketball players never had to deal with before. Take each kid and what is best for these kids,”

Calipari told Tom Leach. “Sometimes you have to step away and get this right.”

Calipari plans to use freshman Tyrese Maxey at point guard and says he’s anxious to see how he does.
“They may press us with him at the point and make him make plays,” Calipari said.

8 comments

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  1. Ashton is a great kid and very talented athlete. I’ve come across comments elsewhere that are very disappointing. Balanced and well written Larry. Bottom line is we just don’t know other than how well he’s done both on and off the court here. He has my respect.

    1. William I am going to just guess that maybe Calipari suspended him for a game or just told him he thought a break would be needed. I think Hagans will come back just fine myself

  2. William Amen to your comment

  3. What a great win! Now for the elephant in the room. What’s going on with Ashton? He is not hurt, he is not sick, how can he ask to be excused from this game? If Coach really did know about this on Friday, why did he not prepare the team? We were obviously dazed in the first half. Coach is trying to spin this in the best light possible, but he should have put a new game plan in late Friday, if he actually did know about this then. Tyrese was not prepared to run the offense and everyone else was confused about what their new role was supposed to be.
    Coach deserves a lot of credit for getting us regrouped at halftime. I hate that the kid got hurt, but the absence of Blackshear in the second half was a gift from the basketball gods. Adjustments were made but it took the T to get the team focused and come back with the fight that was missing in the second half against TN. All of this has affected Immanuel. He is not the same Immanuel that was being talked about as SEC player of the year. Tyrese definitely was rattled by all of this too. He forced too many shots, but he helped on the boards, had 7 assists, and only 1 turnover. He kept fighting.
    Nick, Nate, Keion, and Johnny all stepped up in the second half. Give this team credit, they did not let go of the rope, except for Ashton. He didn’t even make the trip! How can he do that to his teammates? If he wanted fewer minutes, or even not to start that would be ok, but he needed to be there, he needed to get back in the game to show the team and himself that he had put the issues from the TN game behind him. All he has done now is create a major distraction that almost cost us this game. You play through difficulties and show the team you care. You never sit out and pout or feel sorry for yourself and draw negative attention to yourself. We don’t play again until Friday. I hope Ashton will come back and work out his issues, but not as a starter. He needs to earn playing time in practice first and then on the court. Keion and Johnny have earned more PT. Ashton can still be an asset to our team, but only if his head and his heart are right. Let’s hope they will be.

    1. Whole lot of typing nothing said. You could be Mikey with your BS passive aggressive grab. Didn’t you say White would out coach Cal? The sky is not falling and the end is not near Chicken Little.

  4. How can Hagans ask to be excused from this game? Because Calipari is the Coach, and knows the scoop, not you. Why can’t you just celebrate a big win hero?

  5. I’m glad Hagans had the maturity and guts to ask for time off. He knows what’s going on, not us. He also must feel that whatever is going on is effecting his play.
    This game meant nothing. Was a good time to take a break.
    Hagans is a much better player than he has shown for quite some time, so maybe this will help him in the long run.
    He knows his team needs him for the Big Dance, so he needs to get ready now.
    He has played enough in two years that missing a game will not hurt him.

  6. All together now–GO BIG BLUE!

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