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Sophomore was among the best defenders in college basketball last season
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky men’s basketball sophomore guard Ashton Hagans is among 20 players on the preseason watch list for the 2020 Bob Cousy Award, presented annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Hagans is one of 11 underclassmen on the preseason list and one of three Southeastern Conference nominations. Also included were Florida’s Andrew Nembhard and Tennessee’s Lamonte’ Turner.
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 April. 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.
Hagans shared the 2019 SEC Defensive Player of the Year award after inducing 61 steals during his freshman campaign and is considered one of the best on-ball defenders in college basketball. He is also UK’s leading returning scorer at 7.7 points per game. The 6-foot-3 guard was a two-time SEC Freshman of the Week award winner, was named to The Athletic’s All-Glue Team and was a Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year semifinalist.
He started in 30 of 37 games a season ago and tied Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the third-most steals in program history. Included in that was a UK single-game record of eight swipes in a win over North Carolina in December, which matched Rajon Rondo and Wayne Turner’s output. He also dished out 160 assists on the season, ranked the fifth-most by a UK freshman in school history. That mark includes an SEC Tournament-record 12 assists in the semifinals against Tennessee.
The Cartersville, Georgia, native scored in double figures in 13 games and recorded a career-high 23 points in a win at Georgia in his return to his hometown state. He totaled 29 games with three or more assists and had 10 games with three or more steals.
By mid-February, the watch list will be trimmed to 10 players. Five finalists will be revealed in March with the winner being announced during the annual ESPN College Basketball Awards show on April 10. New this season, fan voting will be a part of all three rounds of voting before a winner is announced.
Kentucky is slated to begin exhibition play beginning with its annual Blue-White Game on Friday. That game will air live on the SEC Network at 7 p.m. UK will follow that with two tune-ups against Georgetown College on Oct. 27 at 5 p.m. and Kentucky State on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. Both games will air live on SEC Network. The Wildcats open the regular season in New York for the State Farm Champions Classic. They will face Michigan State at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN.