BREAK: Ashton Hagans declares for NBA draft

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After two years at Lexington, British point guard Ashton Hagans will enter the NBA draft.

This afternoon, second-year playmaker from Cartersville, GA officially announced that he will give up his last two years of eligibility and leave for the NBA.

“When I chose to return for my second year, I had a few goals in mind,” said Hagans in a press release. “The first was to win a national championship. You know, it kills me that we haven’t had a chance to play one this season, but I understand why we couldn’t. But know that we would have been there. The second thing we did was win a SEC championship. I also wanted to become a better all-round playmaker. My coaches and teammates have really helped me progress and now I know I am ready to take the next step.

“I just wanted to let you know that even if I love Kentucky with all my heart and I really wanted to be able to play for a ship, it’s time for me to live my dream of a lifetime and declare for the NBA draft. This has been my # 1 goal since I picked up a ball for the first time and I know my time is up. It’s so hard for me to say goodbye to the best fans in the world because the past two years have been some of the best in my life.

“I want to thank Coach Cal, KP (Kenny Payne), Barb (Tony Barbee), Joel (Justus), Robes (John Robic) and all the staff. You helped me become a man and I know you will always be there to support me. To all my brothers, you all know how much I love you. I wish we could make it work once again. Finally, I have to thank my family. You’ve been there with me since day one. We have gone through a lot and I hope I made you proud. “

In the second year, the 6-foot-3 goalie averaged 11.5 points, 6.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game to become a finalist for the National Defensive Player of the Year.

“Ashton is ready for this,” said British head coach John Calipari in the official statement. “Where he was when he got here two seasons ago where he is now is not even close. He’s a completely different player and he built his skills and confidence to take the next step.

“We know what Ashton can do to change the game defensively and how much he has improved offensively, but what will separate him is his competitiveness. This kid is a winner. His competitive spirit drives him and that’s why I love him. If I’m going to fight, I’ll take Ashton.

“I wish we could have had the opportunity to pursue his championship goals this season, but I’m so proud of who became Ashton. I am happy for him and his family and I will be behind them all the way. “

Hagans is the first Wildcat to formalize its NBA draft decision, although Calipari said last week that a total of five Kentucky players would test the waters. With Hagans now off the table, we will now wait for Tyrese Maxey, Nick Richards, Immanuel Quickley and EJ Montgomery to make their announcements in the coming weeks.



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