John Calipari speaks about his relationship with Ashton Hagans
Ahead of the final game of the 2019-20 regular season, Kentucky PG Ashton Hagans left the Wildcats to deal with what coach John Calipari called a personal issue.
Hagans missed the game against Florida, which ended up being Kentucky’s final game before the COVID-19 outbreak canceled the SEC Tournament and March Madness.
On Tuesday, Calipari spoke on video, and he described his current relationship with Hagans (via 247Sports):
Well, obviously he had to leave town like everyone else, so he and I have texted back and forth. Look, I love coaching competitors. Kids that get emotional sometimes, it doesn’t bother me because I get emotional. I don’t take it as disrespect, but when you’re talking about a young man who we all saw–‘What is going on? Why are you playing this way? You went from one turnover a game to five for five straight games.’ And now he had to address that internally.
He and I talked. I mean, I love him. I’m telling you, when the national anthem is being played and you look down at him, he would look down at me and go like, [makes gesture] ‘We got this.’ When I’m walking off the court at Arkansas, when I get thrown out of the game, he’s the one that put his arm around me and said, ‘Coach, we got this. We’re going to get this, don’t worry. I walked in and I felt pretty good. So, I think, again, he’s got decisions to make, but if he chooses to go to that league, someone’s getting the ultimate competitor. A point guard whose shooting has gotten way better and is on the path that they want to see. It’s not where you are now; you’re 19, 20 years old. Where are you going to be when you’re 25? Are you into the game? Do you love it? Are you a gym rat? Do you understand taking care of yourself? Is this about being a basketball player or gathering things? For him, he’s a basketball player. It’s what he does.
Hagans will likely test the NBA Draft waters this offseason. However, the COVID-19 outbreak might make it tougher for him to catch attention from NBA teams.
We’ll see if he decides to turn pro or return to Kentucky.