Earlier today, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic released his annual NBA Draft Coaches Poll featuring anonymous quotes from coaches across the college basketball landscape. While somewhat complimentary at points in the article, the coaches heavily criticized UK players from this past season’s team, mostly former UK guard Ashton Hagans.
Excerpts of the criticism from coaches in the article can be found in this tweet from Vecenie, in which shows an anonymous coach calling Hagans “trash”:
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) July 15, 2020
These comments have drawn a lot of attention, even prompting a response from UK Head Coach John Calipari and assistant Joel Justus, in which they called the coaches out and expressed disappointment in their criticism:
It always disappoints me when coaches talk anonymously about kids. I would hope that no coach would try to hurt a young person just to hurt a program. But I’ll just say it’s hard to bet against our guys because of the success we have had!
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) July 15, 2020
— Joel Justus (@UKCoachJustus) July 15, 2020
Former Virginia Tech basketball coach and current ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg also weighed in:
The coaches that commented on the @KentuckyMBB players are cowardly. I’d like to know if they were head coaches or assistants. If all these guys are so smart and @UKCoachCalipari players are not very good then why did he kick all their rear ends and win another @SEC championship.
— Seth Greenberg (@SethOnHoops) July 15, 2020
While Ashton Hagans and the other players featured in the discussions are not perfect, anonymously criticizing players does seem like quite a cheap-shot. This is especially the case when Kentucky has had so much success, even last year winning the SEC regular season title with a 25-6 overall record.