One of the biggest storylines going into tonight’s game is Ashton Hagans’ homecoming. By now you’ve heard all about how Kentucky’s rising star was once committed to his home state Bulldogs, but reopened his recruitment once Georgia fired Mark Fox. From there, the decision to come to Lexington was easy.
Earlier today, Nick Roush shared what John Calipari and Reid Travis said about Hagans handling the pressure of playing in front of what could be a contentious crowd at Stegeman Coliseum, but how do the Bulldogs feel about it? Tom Crean, who put in a last-ditch effort to woo Hagans when he was hired, had nothing but praise for the freshman yesterday.
“I would venture to say there isn’t a better defensive and attack minded guard in the freshman class throughout the country,” Crean said, via Bulldawg Illustrated. “He is playing that way. His ability to create steals, he had eight against North Carolina and his ability to create havoc on the ball, off the ball, getting to the rim, it is outstanding. He is playing with a ton of confidence. I think people who knew him, or knew of him, knew he had that and all of the sudden, as he got more opportunity at Kentucky and with the transfer of Green it came out even more. He is playing at an extremely high level.”
Sophomore guard Rayshaun Hammonds agreed.
“We know he’s a competitive guard, we know he’s a 94-feet guard,” Hammonds told RedandBlack.com. “We’ve given him props on defense, we know he can play.”
Who knows how the Georgia crowd will treat Hagans, but Crean made it clear he has no hard feelings on how things turned out.
“I think first and foremost he had decommitted before we got here. I know him and we certainly went to visit him but he never came to campus. When you don’t have somebody on campus I don’t put into context that we didn’t get him. We never got him up here to see what we were doing and that’s fine. He made a choice for himself and that’s good.”
For more on Hagans’ homecoming, I suggest you check out Kyle Tucker’s latest feature, which includes an interview with Hagans’ father, Marvin, who says he’s not worried at all about his son tonight.
“We ain’t worried about that. Ashton is mentally tough.”