Josh Hagins is an undersized point guard at a mid-major school that took the court for its first round NCAA Tournament game yesterday as 8.5-point dogs. Not exactly the lead candidate to end Thursday with comparisons to the best player in the NBA.
But this is March and, as ever, it’s mad.
With his 31 points, 6 assists and 7 rebound efforts in Arkansas-Little Rock’s double overtime win over Purdue, Hagins has already become one of the stars of March Madness. But it wasn’t so much Hagins stats that had people throwing out Steph Curry’s name, but how he got them.
There were the spot up threes from long distance.
There was the ability to knife through the lane and drain floaters over the outstretched arms of much bigger men.
And there was this, the leading contender for shot of the tournament after one day of action. With his Trojans down three and seven seconds on the clock, Hagins shook off his defender and stepped back from 28 feet, forcing overtime and proving that he's got liquid nitrogen running through his veins.
It took two extra periods, but Hagins eventually led the 12 seed Trojans over the five seed Boilermakers, all while looking eerily Curry-like.
The comparison isn’t perfect. Yes, both are small guards with unlimited range who played at mid-majors schools. But Curry was a first team All-American who led the NCAA in scoring, left college after three years and was picked in the top 10 of the NBA Draft. Hagins is a senior who averaged just over 13 points this season and will be lucky to sniff the Summer League. Hell, we may have just witnessed the biggest moment of his basketball career. If so, it was a pretty damn good one.