John Wall. Eric Bledsoe. Shai Gilgous-Alexander. The John Calipari era at Kentucky is replete with point guards that earned spots on NBA rosters. As to be expected, he has another one in 2019, and that Wildcats’ name is Ashton Hagans.
A former 5-star and the No. 12 player nationally per 247 Sports, Hagans not only looks the part of a future pro. He is in position to potentially help Kentucky get to the Final Four for the first time since the near-perfect season in 2015.
The 6-foot-3, 192-pounder only has to facilitate the cornucopia of talent around him, including future pros such as PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro. Hagan himself averages 7.7 points and 4.4 assists per game, as well as nearly 2 steals.
In the SEC Tournament semifinals loss to Tennessee, he notched a double-double with 10 points and 12 dimes.
Entering Thursday night’s NCAA Tournament opener against Abilene Christian (7:10 p.m. EST, CBS), he finds himself on the national stage to cement his place in the first round of this summer’s draft.
Let’s take a dive into his prognostications, as well as mock drafts and big boards.
Ashton Hagans Draft Projections & Mock Draft
NBA Draft has Hagans sneaking into the first round with the No. 30 pick to the Milwaukee Bucks. Outside of this, most projections have Hagans either in the second round or out entirely.
Jeremy Woo of SI.com lists him as the No. 47 overall prospect on his most recent mock draft. He earns most of his praise for his defensive prowess.
Hagans’ value begins on the defensive end, where he has some of the best hands in college basketball and moves his feet at a great clip. Think about DeAnthony Melton as an athletic, defensive-minded backcourt analog in last year’s draft, and Hagans comes along in a similar vein. He’s still very much developing as a playmaker and scorer, still can’t shoot, and will likely be best off returning to school to polish his game—you can also draw a skill set comparison to Trevon Duval, who went undrafted. Still, Hagans has helped himself plenty this season and could benefit from a deep Kentucky run this month.
Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype shows the diparity of opinions surrounding Herro, ranking him No. 42 overall. That includes the first-round opinion by NBA Draft, but also the ones by The Athletic and Bleacher Report that don’t include him at all.
Our own Jon Adams also leave him off his most recent mock draft.
Tyler Herro NBA Draft Big Board Rankings
ESPN’s Draft Board has him as the No. 5 point guard and No. 41 player overall, which figures into the mid second round.
Aran Smith’s NBA Draft Net has him as the No. 30 player in his top-100 prospects.
What separates previous Kentucky greats at point guard was their scoring prowess, which Hagans simply doesn’t have consistently at this point of his career. Think of Gilgous-Alexander, who earned a spot on the Clippers after hitting 40 percent from 3 last year for the Wildcats.
Even non-shooters such as John Wall (or even another Calipari guard in Memphis’ Derrick Rose) slashed to the rim with impunity. Hagans has the physical tools to build these skills, but he needs another year to sharpen them.
By this point next year, expect those pessimistic projections to flip into the positive as Hagans develops into a well-rounded offensive prospect.