A pair of former Newton County prep basketball stars declared for the 2020 NBA Draft this weekend.
Ashton Hagans, a Newton High School graduate, declared for the NBA Draft on Sunday after two spending seasons at the University of Kentucky.
Hagans took to social media Sunday afternoon to thank Big Blue Nation for their support and officially announce his decision.
“I just wanted to let you all know that even though I love Kentucky with all my heart and really wish I could have play for a ‘ship, it’s time for me to live out my life-long dream and declare for the NBA Draft,” Hagans said in the post. “It’s been my No. 1 goal since I first picked up a ball to take this step and I know my time is now. It’s so hard for me to say goodbye to the best fans in the world, because these last two years have been some of the best of my life.”
The former Ram burst onto the college basketball scene as a freshman. In his first season in Lexington, Hagans appeared in 37 games and averaged 7.7 points, 4.3 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game as a guard. He was named a 2019 SEC Co- Defensive Player of the Year alongside LSU's Tremont Waters.
In his sophomore campaign, he averaged 11.5 points, 6.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds & 1.9 steals in 30 games before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari composed a thread of tweets praising his young star.
“He is ready for this. From where he was when he got here two seasons ago to where he is now isn’t even close," Calipari tweeted. "He’s a completely different player and he’s built his skills and his confidence to take that next step. We know what he can do to change the game defensively and how much better he got offensively, but what’s going to separate him is his competitiveness.
"That kid is a winner. His competitive spirit drives him and is why I love him. If I’m going to battle, I’m taking Ashton.”
.@H23Ash is ready for this. From where he was when he got here two seasons ago to where he is now isn't even close. He's a completely different player and he's built his skills and his confidence to take that next step. https://t.co/xehUC8BFCG— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) April 5, 2020
I wish we could have had the opportunity to chase @H23Ash's goals of a championship this season but I'm so proud of who Ashton has become. I'm happy for him and his family and will be behind them the entire way.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) April 5, 2020
Hagans' announcement comes just two days after former Eastside and Newton star Isaiah Miller declared he would be forgoing his senior season at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to declare for the NBA Draft.
Miller was named the 2020 Southern Conference Player of the Year after averaging 17.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists while shooting 42.2% from the field in 32 games for the Spartans.