BURN THE HORSE
It doesn’t take long for you to listen to Josh Hagins talk to start getting excited about him.
Hagins is one of six freshman newcomers this year for UALR and the second to be profiled in this Burn The Horse Series. He’s a 6-2 point guard from Airline High School in Bossier City, La., who averaged 14.4 points, 6.6 assists and 2.6 steals last season.
“I’m excited. We’ve got five really good freshmen coming in,” Hagins said in an interview before Kemy Osse signed this spring. “I’m just trying to see how far I can take this team.”
What we’ve already seen from Hagins has been encouraging. What we hear from him so far is even more encouraging. How many recruits talk about fellow recruits when they do interviews? He does. He’s also been talking up his new teammates on Twitter and vows to leave his mark at UALR before he’s finished. And after calling the frosh class the Fab Five all year, he took to Twitter last week in search of a nickname for the six. We suggested “Super Six.”
“Josh is a winner. He hates to lose and is a true gym rat. They are few and far between these days but he lives in the gym,” Airline coach Chris White said. “He has very good ball-handling skills, sees the floor well and makes unbelievable passes. He gets just as much pleasure out of a great pass as he does from making a shot. He has a very high basketball I.Q. and is a great leader.”
Hagins made an official visit to Creighton last September and chose UALR over the likes of Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette and Northwestern State. The fact that he previously lived in Little Rock and attended UALR Coach Steve Shields’ camp didn’t hurt.
“I used to always go that camp,” Hagins told the Shreveport Times. “I knew the coaches well. It just kind of felt right when they came back to me.”
Hagins, a 2 star by Rivals, won an AAU National Championship with the Louisiana Roundballers. And Airline was poised to make a state tournament run when Hagins suffered a hairline fracture of the left ankle that ended his season in the final week.
He’s healthy now and will report with the rest of the UALR players this week. Hagins is considered an above-average passer with a high basketball I.Q. Memo to UALR’s players: Keep your head up and yourself ready to shoot. He can zip a pass through the tightest of areas.
“He’s a point guard that looks to pass the ball ahead and push it up the floor. He is always looking to get his teammates involved, but can really shoot the ball as well,” Shields said.
After winning the Shreveport area’s athlete of the week award last year, he was asked whether he’d rather make a three-pointer or pick up an assist.
“A beautiful assist any day,” Hagins said. “Anybody can make a three. But how many people can say they set their team up consistently.”
Upside: Hagins has superior court vision and has proven to be an above average passer. He also appears to have the leadership qualities necessary for a point guard.
Downside: He’s only a freshman and is going to be depended upon to contribute minutes immediately. Without a point guard mentor on the roster, it’s going to be plenty of on-the-job training for Hagins.
Outlook: There’s not much to dislike about Hagins. He’s definitely going to get a major opportunity as a freshman, probably a bigger opportunity than most freshmen typically get under Shields. He seems to have the mental makeup to handle it.