ATLANTA – Ashton Hagans won’t go as far as to say he loses sleep over it, but he’d “be lying” if he said he doesn’t “think about what could’ve been sometimes.”
Hagans had every intention of heading up into the hills of Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, for his junior season to lace ‘em up at perennial powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, but later in the summer he had a change of heart in order to be close to his family and re-enrolled at Newton (Covington, Ga.).
“My mom needed me and I felt like the best decision was to be close to her and my family,” said Hagans, a five-star prospect who is ranked No. 19 overall in the ESPN 60. “It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made so far, but I know I made the right choice to come home.”
It certainly looked that way in Rams’ 94-64 win over Columbia (Decatur, Ga.) Friday at the Holiday Hoopsgiving.
Hagans posted a triple-double (14 points, 14 assists, 12 rebounds) in the win.
“I really like our team this year; we’ve got a lot of pieces,” Hagans said. “I’m glad to be back, but the toughest part was that I’d built a good relationship with Coach (Steve) Smith and the players at Oak Hill. It’s hard not to think about everything we could’ve been.”
The buzz around a Hagans-led Oak Hill offense, according to Smith, was that this year’s Warriors could’ve been “one of the best Oak Hill teams ever,” a strong appointment for arguably the best high school basketball program ever.
Hagans earned that clout this summer when he led the prestigious adidas Gauntlet in assists (8.3 per game) and steals (3.0), while adding 14.2 points and 5.4 rebounds a game for Game Elite (Ga.).
Earlier this month, Oak Hill star Keldon Johnson, a Kentucky signee, told USA Today Sports that losing Hagans “was a tough, tough loss for the team.”
The Warriors are ranked No. 4 in the USA Today Super 25.
“It’s a testament to Ashton as a young man and as a player that he wanted to come back and be with his family,” Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. “He wasn’t with us this summer and we went 26-3, but our weakest position was the point guard position so it was perfect. We welcomed him back home.”
That said, Hagans was clear that his decision to return wasn’t solely based in emotion; he also has a bit of unfinished business this season after falling in the state Final Four as a freshman and Elite 8 as a sophomore.
“I want that state title bad,” Hagans said. “It’s just something about winning that. I’m putting all of my focus in to winning, and I think we’ve got the pieces to get that done. It would’ve been nice to go after a national title with Oak Hill, but I’m just kinda moving on from that and focusing on my team this season.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY