If you were worried about college basketball losing all of its’ stars to the NBA draft, fear not. The Duke Blue Devils already received word that point guard Tre Jones will return for his sophomore season. Now, point guard Ashton Hagans has decided to return for his second season with the Kentucky Wildcats.
Hagans came into the season as the No. 14 rated prospect. However, he struggled with his shooting down the stretch of the season. Clearly, Hagans had multiple aspects of his game to work on. Now, he can do it while getting major minutes at the collegiate level. Furthermore, he may jump into the lottery of the 2020 NBA draft.
Hagans started 30 of 37 games for the Wildcats during his freshman season. He averaged 7.7 points and 4.3 assists per game. Yet, the allure of selecting a 6’3” point guard with excellent defensive skills would be too much to pass up. However, Hagans still wasn’t a double digit scorer on one of the elite teams. That’s not what lottery picks are made of. More importantly, you rarely see productive NBA players averaging seven points per game in college the prior year.
Hagans shot 27.5 percent from 3-point range this season. To compare, Jones shot 26 percent from 3-point range. Therefore, two of the best point guards had trouble shooting from long range. Jones attempted roughly three 3-pointers per game while Hagans averaged 1.4 3-point shots per game. In a league that values bad 3-point shots over good 2-point shots, Hagans and Jones would have been in a world of trouble next season.
The Wildcats lost sophomore P.J. Washington to the NBA draft. Washington averaged 15.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game this season. He averaged 12.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game during his freshman season.
Despite Hagans’ limited shooting from long range, he still connected on 46.7 percent of his field goal attempts. He is adept at getting into the lane. Hagans can also shoot the midrange shot. Therefore, he shouldn’t get rid of that part of his game.
His best game came on a home visit to the Georgia Bulldogs. He scored a career high 23 points on a career high 18 shot attempts. Hagans als produced 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals in the win. These are the type of performances the Wildcats will be looking for next season. If he does that on the regular basis, Hagans has the opportunity to be the first guard selected in the 2020 NBA draft.