LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Ashton Hagans was among three former Kentucky players who went undrafted Wednesday night, but the former Wildcats guard will get a chance to play at the next level.
Hagans signed a two-way deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves following the draft and will join former Wildcats standout Karl Anthony-Towns in Minnesota.
“He’s going to have big brother Karl Anthony-Towns with him,” Calipari said. “I’m looking forward to big things from Ashton. He’s built for this.”
EJ Montgomery inked a free-agent deal with the Milwaukee Bucks and Nate Sestina will get a chance to earn a roster spot with the Brooklyn Nets.
“Congrats to both,” Calipari said. “Ashton, EJ and Nate will have a chance to carve out their own path. They are fighters.”
Tyrese Maxey was the 21st overall pick and was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. Maxey was disappointed in not going higher in the draft, but plans on moving forward.
“I think I always play with a chip on my shoulder just because that's just how I am. I'm extremely grateful for where I ended up,” he said. “ feel like it's a great opportunity for me, and I'm very thankful for Philly for giving me this shot. I'm going to go out there and give it 110 percent and give it my all and make sure it's not a regret.”
He also plans on using “grit and toughness” in first tour as a professional player.
“I think that's right up my alley, to be honest,” he said. “That's what I know. That's how I grew up. I grew up with the grit and toughness, and that's what is in my blood. I think that's going to be a great fit, like you said. I'm going to go in, and like I say, get 1 percent better every single day and try to bring a winning mentality.”
Four selections later, the Oklahoma City Thunder selected Southern Conference Player of the Year Immanuel Quickley as the 25th pick. He was later traded to the New York Knicks and will rejoin former Wildcats associate head coach Kenny Payne.
“For me it was more just staying true to who I am, which is keeping God first, and my grind,” Quickley said. “(Coach Cal) said I was one of the hardest-working players he’s ever had. And then also just being a great person off the floor. Those three things have really propelled me and gave me confidence on and off the floor. I feel like that was how I was able to lead and be a leader on last year’s team. Just putting the work in and my teammates and coaches believed in me.”
Nick Richards was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans in the second round (No. 42) but was later traded to the Charlotte Hornets.
“They’re (all) on a different path. But you know what? At the end of the day, fight for what you want. Take what you want and I’m proud of all of them,” Calipari said.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @keithtaylor21.