After Kentucky forward PJ Washington announced he would be putting his name in the NBA Draft this morning, freshman point guard Ashton Hagans turned around and let the Big Blue Nation know he was back for round two.
The decision itself wasn’t shocking, as the 6-foot-3 guard out of Cartersville, GA was seen as a consensus late-second to undrafted prospect in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft. The timing, however, did come as a bit of a surprise, as Hagans opted to not even explore the draft process to receive feedback and work out for teams.
Why? Because he knew exactly where he wanted to be as a basketball player, and he’s just not there yet. In his own words, he has “only scratched the surface” with his game.
“We had a great season this year but I want more,” Hagans said in a press release. “I know I’ve only scratched the surface with my game and there’s so much more I want to accomplish at Kentucky. Coach Cal and the staff have challenged me since day one, and I know with another season at UK we can chase some special things with the same mindset. I can’t wait to get back to work with my brothers.”
After the announcement, Hagans talked to Evan Daniels of 247 Sports, saying he believes Kentucky has a legitimate shot to win the national championship next season.
“It’s Kentucky for one,” he said of his decision. “The team that I’m on next year is one that I think we can win again. Talking to my people and hearing the conversation we were hearing, it wasn’t that bad. But next year I feel like I can do something different and help the program more and build a better relationship with coach Cal. This year was a dream come true for me and next year can be something special.”
After seeing who Kentucky had coming in next season in Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, and Keion Brooks Jr., along with the addition of graduate transfer Nate Sestina, he knew he could would fit right in as the team’s leader.
“I think we are going to be a very good team,” Hagans said. “We just got a grad transfer and playing with this group that I was playing this year with Reid on the team, that was a big help for us. We also needed that. With Kahlil, Tyrese, Keion, there’s some special guys. I’ve known them from being in that class, next year is going to be a special.”
For Hagans as a player, he believes he has “unfinished business” to take care of before making the jump to the NBA.
“I just felt like I left something behind and there’s unfinished business,” he said. “I just want to try and work on my game and get better so I can go higher in the Draft.”