Evaluating Ashton Hagans, Anthony Edwards, and Nick Richards

January 22nd, 2020

by Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch Georgia’s freshman guard, Anthony Edwards play against Kentucky on the road in an SEC basketball game that took place yesterday.  He did not play very well in his team’s blowout loss in the previous matchup when they first met this season, so I was hoping that he would rebound to have a good follow-up match this time around.  Edwards played a little better despite getting off to a bad start, but Kentucky still was able to win by a comfortable margin over Georgia, as the Wildcats received strong performances from Ashton Hagans, Nick Richards, and from their supporting players. Here are my thoughts on how Edwards and the other prospects fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Ashton Hagans could be a first round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.  (Photo: The Associated Press, via UK Athletics.)
Kentucky’s sophomore point guard, Ashton Hagans had a tremendous game in his team’s double-digit victory over Georgia. (Photo: The Associated Press, via UK Athletics.)

Kentucky’s sophomore point guard, Ashton Hagans played very well to help lead his team to a double-digit win over Georgia at home. Hagans had a solid all-around game, and he made very good plays on both ends of the floor to help his team get the victory.

Hagans did a good job of scoring on quick floaters and pull-up, mid-range jumpers off the dribble. He is a speedy, fleet-footed playmaker that can quickly get into the lane, and he would often get scores in the paint. He also used an overhead ball fake to draw free throws on a speedy drive in transition. Sometimes he would miss off-balanced shots in traffic, but Hagans generally excelled at scoring the basketball. He also attempted a three-point shot, but missed that time from beyond the arc.

He also displayed solid playmaking skills. Hagans threw solid interior passes, as he excelled at throwing lob passes to his teammates, and he also would find cutters to rack up assists. He also showed a knack for finding teammates on the move as well as in transition, and Hagans possesses good court vision. He did commit a few turnovers though due to carelessness, as a couple of them were ball-handling related, and he also committed a five-second violation by not inbounding the basketball in time.

Also, Hagans did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He would leap up to collect boards on both ends of the court, and sometimes he would push the ball up the floor off of defensive rebounds.

He also played good defense. Hagans excelled at picking off passes to get a plethora of steals, and he also poked a ball away from an opposing ball handler to force another turnover. Hagans also rotated to block a shot off of a drive due to possessing very good athleticism, anticipation skills, and instincts, and he also would contest shots off of drives to force misses. However, there was one play where he didn’t contest the shot of a taller shooter, which led his team to allow a three-point basket that time.

In general, Ashton Hagans put forth a tremendous performance in his team’s win over Georgia, as he excelled at attacking the basket to get points and assists, and he also rebounded and defended well. He also made sound decisions on both ends of the floor. He will need to improve his jump shot, but he is a smart, skilled playmaker that could end up being a good value pick for an NBA team in the mid to late first round range of the upcoming draft.

Anthony Edwards played well in the second half, but his season struggles against Kentucky may give NBA teams pause about taking him in the top 3 of the 2020 draft.  (Photo: James Crisp, via The Lufkin Daily News.)
Georgia’s freshman guard, Anthony Edwards turned in a rather satisfactory performance in his team’s loss to Kentucky after getting off to a rocky start in the first half. (Photo: James Crisp, via The Lufkin Daily News.)

Georgia’s freshman guard, Anthony Edwards had an adequate showing in his team’s loss to Kentucky. After getting off to a slow start where he was held scoreless in the first half, he excelled at making shots and was able to make some defensive plays after that to try to keep his team in the ball game.

Edwards did a decent job of knocking down jumpers to help space the floor for his team. He was able to make a couple of long-range jumpers from the corner, as he made one off the catch, and another off the dribble, and he also showed a knack for scoring on pull-up jumpers from the mid-range area. On one play, he ran off of a ball screen, as he was able to get the ball on a curl cut to score on a fadeaway, mid-range jumper.

He also flashed the ability to get scores off the dribble. Edwards would drive aggressively to the hoop, and he was able to split a double team on a spin move to get a score and an extra free throw late in this contest. He also can finish plays using either hand to get buckets, and he also scored on a strong drive in transition another time. However, sometimes he would go in too fast and out of control, as he would occasionally rush his shots, which would lead him to miss on off-balanced layups around the basket.

Edwards also was able to draw a non-shooting foul when posting up once. However, he also had his shot blocked when posting up on a separate play after using a spin move, as he drove right into a help defender that time.

On the downside, Edwards was quite turnover prone in this game. For the positives, he is an unselfish player that will keep the ball moving, and he threw a couple of nice passes to find teammates on the break to set up scores for them. He does a fairly good job of passing off the dribble, as he can find teammates on the move. However, he threw a couple of inaccurate passes that went astray, and he also was prone to committing careless turnovers. He committed a three-second violation by standing in the paint too long off the ball early on, and he also committed an offensive foul by pushing off with his arm when looking to score another time. Late in this game, he drove wildly into traffic in transition, as he ended up dribbling off of his own foot as the ball ended up going out of bounds.

Though Edwards didn’t grab many rebounds, he was able to get a defensive board when he was on the floor.

Defensively, he looked to be about average. His defense picked up in the second half, as he was able to intercept a couple of passes to get steals, and his effort picked up late in this game. Edwards will play passing lanes to force turnovers, and he also made an effort to get back on defense and pressure opposing ball handlers, as he was able to force an opponent to commit a five-second violation when attempting to inbound the basketball. He also managed to contest a couple of jumpers to force misses.

However, focus still seemed to be an issue for Edwards, as there would be times where his lapses would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. He would sometimes over-rotate, which would lead him to get beat off the dribble to allow scores. Other times, he would be caught ball watching, as he would have trouble defending opponents on cuts. Other times, he may take bad angles when defending opposing ball handlers, as he can be prone to committing reach-in fouls.

In summary, Edwards put forth a decent performance in his team’s loss to Kentucky. But what was especially puzzling was when his performance was down, his team seemed to be playing close to their max capabilities, as they even led late in the first half despite him having been held scoreless in that time span. But in the second half, Edwards starting playing very well, but his team started playing poorly, and it seemed that neither he nor his teammates could both play well at the same time. Still, Edwards is a talented combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, and his ability to get buckets will likely enable him to be a top five pick in the 2020 draft.

Kentucky's junior center, Nick Richards played very well in his team's win over Georgia.  (Photo: Jeremy Chisenhall/A Sea of Blue.)
Kentucky’s junior center, Nick Richards played very well in his team’s win over Georgia. (Photo: Jeremy Chisenhall/A Sea of Blue.)

Kentucky’s junior center, Nick Richards played very well in his team’s win over Georgia. He excelled as an inside scorer, rebounder, and defender for his team, and he scored 20 points and collected 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in this game.

Richards did a good job of scoring in the post. He would frequently get scores inside, and he also would catch numerous lob passes to score on alley-oop dunks. He also showed a knack for drawing fouls upon his defenders, and he also scored on a jump hook. He did miss on several jump hooks, but Richards generally excelled at scoring in the paint.

He also showed a good ability to score on hustle plays. Richards would often score on rolls and cuts to the basket, and he also managed to score on a put back. However, he also would sometimes miss shots at the rim due to rushing his shots, and he even missed on an awkward sling hook on a put back attempt once.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills. Richards was able to set a good off-ball screen for a teammate that was moving off the ball to help set up a score for him. On a separate play though, he dropped a pass out of bounds, which led his team to commit a turnover.

He also did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball. He would frequently crash the glass to haul in boards on both ends of the floor, as he was able to get his fair share of boards for his team.

Richards also played adequate defense. He did a great job of blocking shots around the basket to protect the paint for his team, as he possesses very good length, athleticism, and timing to do so. He would tend to make good rotations, and he would contest shots out on the perimeter as well as in the paint to force misses. He also managed to successfully draw a charge when defending a drive to get a stop for his team. Sometimes though, he would be caught ball watching, as he would occasionally allow scores to cutters. He also had some trouble defending opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores on occasion.

Overall, Nick Richards had a solid showing to lead his team to a double-digit victory over Georgia. He is an athletic, energetic big man that may project to be a solid rim protector in the association, and he could end up being a good find for an NBA team at the next level.

Other Notes:

Kentucky’s sophomore center, E.J. Montgomery put forth a solid performance in his team’s win over Georgia. He excelled at scoring on hustle plays, and he also showed a good ability to knock down mid-range jumpers to show his shooting range on offense. He also rebounded the ball well, and he excelled as a help defender in this game. He would rotate to swat shots in the paint, and he also managed to pick up a loose ball that an opposing ball handler dropped to get a steal. Overall, Montgomery is an athletic, energetic big man that could project to be a solid rim protector at the next level, and he could end up being a good find for an NBA team whenever he decides to enter the draft.

Kentucky’s sophomore point guard, Immanuel Quickley played fairly well in his team’s win over Georgia. He excelled at scoring on quick floaters off the dribble, and he also passed the ball well. He struggled to consistently make threes, though he was able to make an open corner three, and he also drew free throws on a long-range shot another time.

Quickley played fairly average defense. He was active in contesting shots, and he was able to rotate to the post block a shot from behind, as well as challenge a three-point shot to force some misses. However, he tended to foul opposing ball handlers, and he ended up fouling out of this game.

Overall, Quickley made some good plays in his team’s win over Georgia. He has been a solid role player off the bench for his team, and he could end up being a second round pick whenever he decides to enter the draft.

Kentucky’s freshman swingman, Keion Brooks played fairly well in this game, as he excelled at scoring on hustle plays, and he also rebounded and defended well. He especially excelled at scoring on cuts, put backs, and in transition, and he was able to catch a long pass to score on a thunderous dunk on the break late in this game. He also defended well, as he was able to rotate to block a shot off of a drive, and he also successfully drew a charge another time. Overall, Brooks is an athletic, energetic player that could project to be a defensive specialist at the next level. He will need to improve his jump shot and playmaking skills, but he could end up being a good find for a team in the second round range of the upcoming draft.

For Georgia’s junior forward, Rayshaun Hammonds, his performance was a mixed bag, as he scored the basketball in a variety of ways and rebounded fairly well, but he didn’t make shots efficiently, and he struggled with his on-ball defense in his team’s loss to Kentucky.

He showed the ability to score in the post as well as off the dribble, and Hammonds also made a couple of open, spot-up threes off the catch. Hammonds also was able to score on a nifty, step-through move in traffic when posting up, as he possesses good strength and footwork to do so. However, he also struggled to score in traffic off the dribble at times, and he was streaky with his jumper, which would lead to some misses. He also had trouble scoring off of offensive rebounds, as he would miss wildly around the basket.

Hammonds also passed the ball well in this game. He threw crisp, interior passes, and he passes the ball fairly well off the dribble, as he can find open teammates to set up scores for them. He did have the ball poked away once which led him to commit a turnover, and he can sometimes struggle to protect the basketball.

He also was quite active on the glass, as he would crash the boards to get his team plenty of rebounds. However, he struggled defensively. For the positives, Hammonds would contest shots in the post, and he also managed to block a shot. However, there would be times where he would struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. On a separate possession, he did not contest a long two-point shot, which led his team to allow the basket. In addition, there was another play where he didn’t communicate to a teammate that a screen was coming, which led his team to allow a score in the post.

Overall, Rayshaun Hammonds is a skilled combo forward that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, but he will need to make long-range jumpers more consistently, and play with more focus on both ends of the floor. Right now, he may project to be a second round prospect whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft, as he could project to be a similar player to Portland Trail Blazers’ forward, Anthony Tolliver in the association.

Kentucky’s freshman point guard, Tyrese Maxey had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Georgia. He didn’t look to shoot or score very often as he was not very aggressive on offense, but he was able to draw and make numerous free throws, and he also showed some playmaking skills when he was on the court.

Maxey did not look to score often, but he did a decent job of scoring on speedy drives to the hoop. He was able to use a pump fake to score on a floater, and he also excelled at drawing fouls when taking the ball to the rim. However, he struggled more when taking jumpers, as he missed on a pull-up, mid-range jumper and on a spot-up three on other occasions.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills. Maxey handles the ball well, and he can throw solid passes off the dribble to set up scoring chances for his teammates. He will look to find the open man, and he also threw a lob pass to set up a score for a teammate in transition. However, he also committed a slew of turnovers, as he would throw inaccurate passes that would go astray, and he also had a ball poked off of him when driving to the hoop on a separate play.

Maxey did a good job of rebounding the basketball, as he would haul in plenty of boards to help his team on the floor. However, there was one play where he trailed an opponent on an offensive rebound, and he bit on a pump fake, which led his teammate to rotate to foul the opponent on a put back.

However, he struggled on the defensive end. On the bright side, Maxey was able to get a steal in this game. However, he would tend to sag too far and over-help in the paint, which would lead him to allow three-point baskets to shooters. He also struggled to defend on a drive, as he backpedaled too far underneath the hoop, as his team allowed a score that time.

Overall, Tyrese Maxey didn’t have his best game, but he can take over games with his athleticism and scoring ability when he wants to. He didn’t look to shoot or score very often, and he seemed to fade into the background on this day against Georgia. Still, he is a very talented player that could end up going in the late lottery of the upcoming draft, and he could end up being a microwave type of scorer in the NBA.

Kentucky’s freshman swingman, Kahlil Whitney did not play very much in this game against Georgia, but he did draw free throws after getting the ball on a nice backdoor cut to the hoop.  He would’ve scored on the reverse layup, but he didn’t get continuation, so the made basket didn’t actually count. He went one for two from the free throw line.

Overall, Whitney is an athletic, energetic player that could project into a defensive specialist role in the NBA, but his early season struggles, especially on offense have likely prevented him from being able to get much playing time this season. Right now, he will need to show that he can improve his jump shot and consistently play well when he is on the floor, but it’s possible that an NBA team could take a flier on him in the second round based on his athleticism and perceived upside for the next level.