COVINGTON, Ga. — In the end, it looks like the most coveted offer won the day.
Just about two weeks after five-star Newton High point guard Ashton Hagans got the offer from Kentucky that he'd said he always dreamed of getting, the 6-foot-4 2019 prospect pulled the trigger on the Wildcats, committing to coach John Calipari and company, after spending last Thursday with the Kentucky staff.
“Since he was in middle school, Kentucky was his main plan,” said Hagans’ AAU basketball coach Chris Williams who coaches the Game Elite Gold. Even throughout that, Ashton continued listening to other schools and building relationships with them.”
Those relationships led to Hagans initially committing to Georgia while former coach Mark Fox was there. After Fox’s dismissal following nine seasons at the helm became apparent, Hagans pulled back from that pledge.
He stated that he was familiar with new Georgia coach Tom Crean and that he’d continue to take his time through the process. But once the Kentucky offer showed up, it appeared that Hagans’ commitment would be a foregone conclusion.
“After he decommitted from Georgia and all the rumors of him reclassifying started, it just got pretty hectic,” Williams said. “So last Thursday the Kentucky staff came to visit him and and he felt comfortable with them. He’s already got some friends up there like Keldon (Johnson), Tyler (Herro) and Immanuel (Quickly), and so he just felt that the staff up there has what it takes to help him get to that next level, and of course that next level is the NBA.”
The news of Hagans’ commitment came less than 24 hours after Wheeler star power forward EJ Montgomery made his Kentucky pledge. The 6-foot-10 senior was considered the state’s top player for 2018 as Hagans is for 2019.
Williams said Montgomery’s decision didn’t weigh much in Hagans’ choice, however.
“That wasn’t really a factor,” Williams said. “We knew Ashton was going to make this choice since the weekend. He and EJ have talked about playing together before, and their friends. But we wanted to let EJ have his day yesterday.
As for those 2018 reclassification rumors, Williams said the jury is still out for Hagans on whether or not he will situate himself to start playing at Kentucky for the 2018-19 season.
“Right now he’s a 2019 kid,” Williams said. “And reclassification is still up in the air. There’s maybe a possibility out there for him to look at both, and he’ll probably pick what he wants to do in the summer. It’s all about which year is going to be the best fit for him.”
Then Williams offered up a bit of personal testimony for the 2017-18 Mr. Georgia Basketball award winner.
“Basically I love the kid wholeheartedly,” he said. “He’s been with me since he was in the eighth grade, and I’ve seen the growth he’s made on and off the court. I’m excited for him.”
Those sentiments of pride were felt also from Newton Rams coach Rick Rasmussen.
"We are very excited and proud of him," Rasmussen said. "He has worked very hard to get to this point, and getting to the next level has always been a huge goal for him. We know he can do great things there at Kentucky, and will make a huge impact for them."
Stay tuned to www.covnews.com as we’ll provide you more on Hagans’ UK pledge as it becomes available.