It’s widely known that Ashton Hagans, a five-star point guard from the class of 2019, will graduate high school early and join Kentucky’s roster this summer ahead of the 2018-19 season.
But it’s not official yet, so when Kentucky head coach John Calipari spoke about Hagans, he committed an NCAA violation.
What did John Calipari say?
Calipari is no stranger to speaking off the cuff, but this was fairly innocuous. At the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida, last week, Calipari was asked if he thought Hagans would have landed at Kentucky if former Georgia coach Mark Fox had not been fired.
Calipari, ever confident in his abilities as a recruiter, said Hagans wanted to be a Wildcat all along.
“He wanted us all along and we had waited, and Mark did a good job and jumped on it. I told him, ‘You’re smart,’” Calipari said. “But then the kid opens up when he figures out that stuff is happening. And we get a terrific player.”
Hagans, a native of Covington, Georgia, was verbally committed to Georgia for a few months. Hagans was the most coveted recruit Fox had landed at UGA, but with questions of Fox’s job security swirling, Hagans backed away from his pledge in late February. A few weeks later, Fox was fired. Ex-Indiana coach Tom Crean was brought on as Fox’s replacement, but could not get Hagans back in the fold.
Instead, Hagans looked elsewhere in the SEC and announced his commitment to Calipari’s Kentucky program in April.
What NCAA rule did John Calipari violate?
Even though Hagans is on the cusp of making his commitment to Kentucky official, he still has not signed a national letter of intent. Because of this, Calipari is not allowed to speak publicly about Hagans or any other prospect that has not officially signed the proper paperwork.
NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199 states:
Before the signing of a prospective student-athlete to a National Letter of Intent or an institution’s written offer of admission and/or financial aid or before the institution receives his or her financial deposit in response to its offer of admission, a member institution may comment publicly only to the extent of confirming its recruitment of the prospective student-athlete. The institution may not comment generally about the prospective student-athlete’s ability or the contribution that the prospective student-athlete might make to the institution’s team; further, the institution is precluded from commenting in any manner as to the likelihood of the prospective student-athlete committing to or signing with that institution.
Because Calipari spoke of Hagans, he committed a secondary violation. As pointed out by SEC Country, it shouldn’t result in anything more than a slap on the wrist and a few compliance reminders.
Per the rulebook, such a violation does not affect a prospective student-athlete’s eligibility. So UK will likely self-report a secondary violation, receive in return a sternly-worded letter from college basketball’s governing body, and Hagans will soon join the Wildcats for the 2018-19 season.
Ashton Hagans is part of a massive recruiting class
Once he finishes up a few classes needed to graduate high school early, Hagans will join a loaded Wildcats roster, even after UK lost four players to the NBA. UK’s class of 2018 includes point guard Immanuel Quickley, wing Keldon Johnson and power forward E.J. Montgomery, all of whom are all rated by Rivals.com as five-star recruits. The Wildcats also landed four-star shooting guard Tyler Herro.
That group joins forward P.J. Washington (10.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg), point guard Quade Green (9.3 ppg, 2.7 apg), center Nick Richards (5.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg), guard Jemarl Baker (redshirted) and potentially Reid Travis, a graduate transfer power forward from Stanford who averaged 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last season. Travis will reportedly visit Villanova in addition to Kentucky before making a decision.
Per SEC Country, Hagans plans to enroll “no later than August.” Here’s what he’ll bring to Lexington, via Rivals.com:
A 6-foot-4 lead guard that is known first and foremost for his defensive prowess, Hagans should enable for his teammates to focus more on the offensive end, thus allowing to a more complete roster. The Wildcats will lose its top perimeter defender in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to the NBA Draft and the commitment and reclassification of Hagans for the Wildcats could not have come at a better time.
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