Ashton Hagans has never touched the floor of Newton High School’s gym at a real regular season game yet, but that doesn’t matter to the University of Georgia. They’ve seen enough of Hagans in AAU and throughout the summer league to offer him before he’s scored his first high school basket.
“I think him being a freshman and getting an offer already is real big, that means he’s one of the best freshmen probably in the country, honestly. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it shows the dedication and hard work that the young man has put forth. The fruits of his labor, everybody’s seeing it come to fruition now,” Marcus Taylor, Newton assistant basketball coach, said.
The offer is big time for Hagans. His father, Marvin Hagans, thinks it’s beautiful. He says it’s a blessing for his son.
The Rams, coming off a trip to the elite eight, lost their best player in point guard DJ Hill who will try and make waves playing at the University of Mobile this season, and Hagans looks to fill his shoes which is no easy task.
“I think the expectations are for him to be a very solid point guard. We went to the elite eight last year, we want to give him the keys to the car and hopefully he can take us a little bit further this year,” Taylor said.
“DJ was a heck of a leader, three-year starter and took us to new heights. I think that, honestly this summer, the way Ashton played he kind of reminds you of DJ a little bit. He’s very heady with the ball and he’s very unselfish. He loves to give everybody the ball so all of our guards love to play with him and our big men, also,” Taylor added. “When we saw him in the summer, you were thinking, ‘Man is that DJ? But taller?’ That’s pretty much what it is. No slight to DJ because I think DJ is a great point guard, he’s a college point guard now, but it’s just the fact that Ashton is kind of wise beyond his years.”
If you haven’t seen Hagans play, you should. He was fun to watch for Newton this summer and he compliments Newton’s four-guard lineup well because he has excellent vision as a ball-handler and he has the ability to play on or off the ball.
“It’s one thing to be hyped and it’s one thing to be hyped and go and back it up,” Taylor said. “I think he’s been doing that throughout the summer circuit, throughout eighth grade and I think now that a lot of people are actually looking at this young man, that’s how he got his offer.”
The offer brings a sense of relief that Hagans’ hard work paid off but it also brings lofty expectations especially for such a young player. Taylor doesn’t think the hype will get to him.
“With his father being in his corner and the way he’s raised him, I think that he’s a well-mannered kid and I don’t think that the situation gets too big for him,” Taylor said. “Some kids are gamers and he’s a gamer. He’s been talking about going big time Division I and being one of the top kids in the country and I think that once you have that mindset the stakes can’t be too big for him.”