Ashton Hagans’ defense has not gone unnoticed. The freshman point guard was just named one of ten semifinalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.
Hagans is one of only three freshmen on the list, along with Duke’s Tre Jones and Zion Williamson. Right now, he’s averaging 2.0 steals per game, which ranks second in the SEC and fifth nationally among all freshmen. He tied a school record with eight steals in the North Carolina game, and had at least three steals in the next six, the only major-conference freshman to do so since Wake Forest’s Chris Paul in the 2003-2004 season. With 53 steals so far this season, he could still break Rajon Rondo’s single-season record of 87 back in 2004-2005.
Hagans has been the catalyst to Kentucky’s improvement on defense. According to UK, over the last 13 games, which include four wins over AP Top 25 opponents, the Cats have limited opponents to 60.7 points per game, 38.5 percent from the floor and 31.6 from behind the arc. That’s good.