Sophomore guard has been among the nation’s best on both the offensive and defensive end
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Kentucky men’s basketball sophomore guard Ashton Hagans is one of 10 midseason finalists for the 2020 Bob Cousy Award, presented annually to the nation’s top point guard by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Named after Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Cousy, this year’s award will be presented at the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show in Los Angeles on April 10. The Wildcats’ Tyler Ulis won the award in 2016 after setting the UK single-season assist record with 246 dimes during his sophomore campaign. He is the only Wildcat to win the award.
Other previous winners include Ja Morant (Murray State, 2019), Jalen Brunson (Villanova, 2018), Kemba Walker (UConn, 2011) and Ty Lawson (North Carolina, 2009).
The final five finalists will be revealed in March. Fan voting will go live on Friday at hoophallawrds.com. Players can play their way onto and off the list at any point during the season.
Hagans has been the consummate point guard in his sophomore season, doing a little bit of everything to affect the game. The second-year guard is averaging 12.8 points, 7.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game while grabbing the leadership reins of a talented but once again young team. He is the only player in the nation averaging at least 12.0 points, 7.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals.
The Cartersville, Georgia, native has boasted double-figure scoring in 15 of 21 games, including a career-high 26-point performance in the win over Utah Valley. He’s dished out three or more assists in every game and has five or more in 18 of the 21, including a career-high-tying 12 vs. UAB. His streak of 10 games with six or more assists was snapped with five dimes at Georgia. It was the best run by a Wildcat under John Calipari and the best run since Roger Harden dished six or more in 12 straight from Jan. 11 to Feb. 15, 1986.
For the season, Hagans is averaging 7.0 assists per game, ranked eighth in the country, tops in the Southeastern Conference (through games on Feb. 1) and even with Ulis’ 2015-16 school-record pace. He’s second in the league with a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“We could say there are better point guards in the country, but you got to tell me who you’re talking about,” Calipari said earlier this season.
The reigning SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year remains UK’s best on-ball defender with a team-high 44 steals, and even those numbers don’t really do him justice. His ability to disrupt opposing teams’ offense was on full display in road wins at Georgia and at then-No. 18/18 Texas Tech.
Hagans posted three steals vs. the Red Raiders, but it was the plays that didn’t show up as steals that helped preserve the win. Down the stretch, he forced three key turnovers, including knocking the ball off a defender’s foot on the sideline, running the length of the floor to tip away what would have been a transition alley-oop dunk, and swatting away the potential game-tying shot in the closing seconds of overtime.
It is plays like those that have put Hagans on the midseason watch list for the Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year award for the second season in a row and a big reason why the Wildcats are plus-199 this season with him on the floor, a team high.
“You’re not going to find a player that is better on the defensive end on and off the ball than Ashton Hagans has been,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas recently said. “I think he’s the frontrunner for national defensive player of the year.”
Hagans has done all this while fighting through a pair of nagging injuries this season. He battled lower leg pain for the first handful of games to start the season and played through a left ankle sprain early in the SEC season.
Cousy played for Holy Cross from 1946-1950 winning an NCAA Championship in 1947. He was named a Consensus First Team All-American in 1950. His success continued at the professional level as a six-time NBA champion (1957, 1959-1963), NBA Most Valuable Player (1957) and 13-time NBA All-Star (1951-63). In 1996, he was named a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Kentucky, now 16-5 this season and 6-2 in the SEC, returns to action Tuesday vs. Mississippi State at 9 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN.
2020 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award Candidates
Jared Butler, Baylor
McKinley Wright IV, Colorado
Tre Jones, Duke
Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State
Devon Dotson, Kansas
Ashton Hagans, Kentucky
Markus Howard , Marquette
Cassius Winston, Michigan State
Payton Pritchard, Oregon
Malachi Flynn, San Diego State